RSIS Virtual Roundtable with Dr Hamidin Abd Hamid and Dato’ Mazri Muhammad
UMNO at the Crossroads: Implications for Malaysian Politics
Malaysia has undergone two historic power transitions in the last two years. Pakatan Harapan swept into power in May 2018 and collapsed in February 2020, succeeded by Perikatan Nasional in March with Mr Muhyiddin Yassin as Prime Minister.
This story may also be retold as one of dramatic defeat by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) after 61 years in power, and its return within less than two years. UMNO had suffered a number of defections in the aftermath of the 14th Malaysian General Election (GE14). There was also talk of the party splintering and even facing suspension by the Registrar of Societies.
But not only has UMNO remained intact, it enjoys more support from Malaysia’s largest ethnic community, the Malays, than any other party, and has increasingly consolidated its position in the community since its GE14 defeat. It is important to have a deeper understanding of the party’s perspectives, strategy and options from those familiar with the party’s thinking.
Key issues to be addressed at the event include:
- UMNO’s assessment of its defeat in GE14;
- the pact with Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) through the Muafakat Nasional and its long-term strategic implications for UMNO’s Malay agenda;
- competition and cooperation with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia;
- possibilities of leadership renewal and the key players in UMNO;
- how can UMNO handle the issue of corruption, which was a factor in its decline in support in GE14; and
- its priorities in government and perspectives on the next general election.
Our Speakers, who have worked with key leaders of the party and analysed Malaysian politics throughout their careers, are well-placed to shed light on these complex issues.
About the Speakers
Hamidin Abd Hamid is Associate Professor at the History Department of Universiti Malaya. He is also Research Fellow at ILHAM Centre, which conducts independent research on Malaysian politics, and Advisor to the Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS), Malaysia. He was Founder and CEO of the Razak School of Government (2010 to 2016). He is an expert on Malaysian politics, African history, administration, and International politics and relations. He is one of the few scholars in the region who focus on the African continent. His works have been published locally and internationally, including a book on Malaysia-Africa Relations (2003), a biography of Tun Hussein Onn (2006), and a collection of Tun Razak’s Speeches (2018).
Mazri Muhammad is a political communication consultant and political analyst. He was a Special Officer and Speechwriter to the 6th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najiib Tun Razak, and Deputy Director of the Policy & Research Division at the Prime Minister’s Office, from 2009-2013. He was Special Officer and Speechwriter to then Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak from 2007-2009. He was advisor to the Chief Minister of the State of Selangor from 2001-2007.