To make the party more attractive and appealing, there are suggestions to cap the number of terms that UMNO office bearers can hold on to their position.
Would this help in the much-talked about efforts to rejuvenate the party and make it more attractive and appealing?
If this idea can possibly make the party maintain its popularity, then UMNO Youth is hoping that the general assembly beginning Tuesday can start the ball rolling.
After all, having young people as leaders is not alien to UMNO.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the party president, was only 29 when he was made Pahang menteri besar; Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Chik was 32 when he was appointed chief minister of Malacca and Tan Sri Shahrir Samad was a deputy minister at the age of 31.
Now, 55 is the average age of division heads and 60 for branch heads, while the average age for Malaysians – some 56% of them – is 34 and below!
UMNO Youth Deputy Chief Khairul Azwan Harun said putting a limit to how many terms or years office bearers – from vice-presidents to supreme council members and Wanita, Youth and Puteri chief posts – can serve is one way of bringing new faces and fresh ideas into the party.
There can, however, be exceptions to the rule where the term limit is not applicable to the No. 1 and No. 2 posts.
“Party elders have contributed tremendously towards the party struggle and the Malays. There is no denying that," he said.
“I am not being disrespectful to the elders but I believe it is time to let the young ones in the party shine and bring new energy to Umno,” he said.
Even Pakatan Rakyat has fared better in bringing new faces into its foray – 24% of their MPs are below the age of 40, while Barisan Nasional’s young MPs only constitute 4%.
Khairul Azwan is even prepared to endorse having a ceiling age for the party’s youth chief, even if it means jeopardising his chances of helming the movement. Currently, there is no bar as to how old the youth chief should be.
“Imagine if you have a 50- or 60-year-old heading a movement for youth.
“The idea of limiting the number of years in office need not happen tomorrow but is something which the leadership should start looking into,” he said.
“This assembly is an opportune time to start toying with the idea.”
However, injecting new blood into the party veins need not necessarily be through putting a restriction on how long office bearers can serve.
For one, UMNO can introduce young and new people as election candidates.
“There are also posts, be it in the party, government or government-linked companies which can be filled by young, talented and creative individuals. We need to find the perfect balance – young with experience in leading the party.
“Whatever ideas or efforts we have in mind must lead towards one aim – for the party to be strong,” Shahrir stressed. [TS]