KUALA LUMPUR, Jun 30 – Umno presidential candidate Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said Umno would rise again as a stronger party if its grassroots members were prepared for cleansing and truly want change. 

The 81-year-old veteran leader said the setbacks suffered by the party was not that bad but it needed a fresh breath to continue as a credible party with integrity.

The Gua Musang MP who is fondly known as Ku Li said Umno should be more inclusive and change its image as an elitist and wealthy party controlled by a group of leaders who are out of touch with the people.

“It is not that the people do not want Umno but it is seen as drifting further away as if Umno is very elitist and do not jell with the ordinary people. If (Umno members) could change these attitudes, the people will return to support Umno.

“What is needed is to instil a new spirit for Umno and Umno will rise again as desired by the people especially the Malays …and with the support of the non-Malays, we can become strong again,” he said in an interview with Bernama at his residence in Jalan Langgak Golf today.

Umno, he said would be more open and democratic to enable party members from the grassroots level to voice their views and criticise leaders without fear of reprisal.

For a total change to Umno, he saw the need to eradicate the elements of warlords and money politics for the party to be fully restored and to rise up again.

Towards this, if elected as party president, Tengku Razaleigh did not rule out the possibility of amending the party constitution and creating rulings to close the gaps to prevent such malaise could re-emerging.

In the party election today, Tengku Razaleigh who return to active politics offered himself as a presidential candidate with four other candidates including acting president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

Stressing that he was initially reluctant to contest for the top post after the last attempt in 1987 when he lost to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and had since did not feature in the party’s mainstream leadership.

He said his intention this time was only to restore the party’s credibility and integrity so that it is well-received by the people again. — Bernama

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