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We already have Tony Blairs to beat Dr M-Thatcher, says Umno man

Free Malaysia Today logo Free Malaysia Today 8/11/2018 Adam Abu Bakar
a man smiling for the camera: Umno Youth vice-chief Shahril Hamdan says it is up to party leaders and members if they want to see reforms. © Provided by FMT MEDIA SDN BHD Umno Youth vice-chief Shahril Hamdan says it is up to party leaders and members if they want to see reforms.

PETALING JAYA: An Umno leader says the party already has individuals like former UK prime minister Tony Blair who could go up against “Margaret Thatchers” such as Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Shahril Hamdan, who is vice-chief of Umno Youth, said the only question was whether the party was willing to give these individuals the space to speak on its behalf.

He was responding to former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim, who yesterday offered Umno some tips on how to make a comeback following its historic loss in the May 9 polls.

Zaid said it would be difficult to counter the Pakatan Harapan government whose election manifesto he described as a work of “idealists and economists” that “promised everything”.

“Mahathir is the Margaret Thatcher of Malaysia, so to win against him you need a Tony Blair in Umno,” Zaid said, comparing the prime minister to the former British leader who was dubbed “The Iron Lady” for her uncompromising stand in politics.

Shahril said Umno had in fact had individuals such as Blair, whose landslide victory in 1997 gave the Labour party its biggest ever majority, sweeping it to power after years of Conservative dominance. Blair, the youngest prime minister since 1812, went on to lead the UK until 2007.

“We have had people who are dynamic, fresh and more in tune with the times compared to the rest of the party,” Shahril told FMT when contacted.

“The challenge is whether Umno wants to provide them with the space to become the party’s spokesmen, or whether it prefers to play it safe with the usual rhetoric and remain in its comfort zone.”

Shahril said the grassroots at the time chose Blair because he broke from party tradition, although he was dubbed by some as radical for doing so. This, he added, was how the Labour party eventually returned to power.

“They realised that being popular with the people was more important than being popular in the party,” he said.

“It’s now up to Umno leaders and members to decide if they want reform. That is their right, and time will tell.”

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