There are several issues which the new leadership must address quickly:
- The party is suffering from a serious perception deficit. It is known for being a bully, a rule bender, rowdy, autocratic and feudalistic. The party does not mind manipulating religion, race and recently the monarchy to satisfy its political agenda. One of the biggest challenges for the party under the new leadership is to prove to us that it is ready and capable of governing a multiracial society. An UMNO which caters for only the Malay community may help to extend the lifeline of the party but not the coalition's. Can Najib convincingly rebrand his leadership to appeal to all Malaysians? Can his leadership be current and flexible enough to win over the waning support of young Malaysians?
- UMNO new leadership is the most controversial in the party's history. Najib is entangled with several allegations. Two veteran leaders, Dr Mahathir and Tengku Razaleigh, had urged the new president to come clean on the matter. Ku Li told the Malaysian Insider, "(He) should take the witness stand to clear his name or take legal action against the growing number of foreign publications linking him with the murder of Altantuya Shariibuu and the purchase of submarines. He “should finally face these suspicions and implied charges, submit himself to legal scrutiny, and come clean on them.’’ Meanwhile, Khairy was implicated in the last general election as one of the main causes of BN's stunning defeats. A number of BN leaders had quietly singled him out for arousing the anger of non-Malays. The two leaders have a lot of work to do to repair their public image.
- Under Najib leadership, will his reforms plan suffer the same fate like Abdullah's? Several actions taken by the UMNO led government do not augur well for his leadership e.g. arbitrary use of ISA against civilians, Perak power grab, dubious decisions taken by public institutions against the oppositions, action taken against bloggers, police interference in politics and others. His leadership has given us a perception that UMNO is not committed to promote and defend the rule of law, the federal constitution and the democracy system. What is Najib's focus and priority? The interest of this nation or his own political dominance? Malaysians do not like to be kicked around anymore. My sense is that many Malaysians despise unfairness and arrogance.
- Is UMNO willing to share more power with other component parties? These political parties can no longer hide that they are not consulted in policy formulation and decision making within the government. Most of these parties are reduced to making statements in the media. If the trend continues, expect very little to change in BN. The progress of this country must involve more than just UMNO leaders. The party does not the capacity to single handily pull this nation out of the current economic dilemma. The talent pool needs to be enlarged. Is the party willing to consider meritocracy over ethnicity?
- The current perception today is the party is outdated and does not understand the needs and wants of a multiracial nation. Does the party understand what are the key success factors of a society increasing threatened by complex global challenges?
The plate is full for the new UMNO leadership. It takes a superhuman performance of the leaders to rebuild and regain the confidence of Malaysians towards the party. We are at the twilight of race-based political model.