Umno’s 71st anniversary celebration on Thursday will be its biggest and possibly last gathering before the general election is held, reported The Star Online.
Party vice-president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted as saying the rally would “showcase a united Umno that is ready for the big battle after the setbacks in the last two general elections.”
The turnout is expected to be more than 120,000 Umno members at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.
“Our political rivals have painted a ‘grey picture’ about our unity after the 12th and 13th general elections.
“So, now is the time for us to prove to the public, especially the Opposition, that we are united,” Ahmad Zahid said in an interview with The Star.
When asked whether the event would be the party’s final and biggest gathering before the election, he said that the gathering would “answer what so-called political analysts outside of Umno and Barisan Nasional have been saying about our unity.”
Although the federal government’s five year term ends in June next year, many are expecting Prime Minister Najib Razak to call it this year.
Ahmad Zahid added that Umno and Barisan Nasional had made “substancial preparations” for the polls.
“Previously, we would organise some of our (preparatory) meetings only after Parliament was dissolved.
“This time around, we have already held our retreats and meetings,” he said.
The coalition had also ironed out some issues during its management meeting, which was chaired by him.
He added that issues such as seat allocation within or between Barisan component parties would be addressed earlier instead of only after the dissolution of parliament.
An independent body to verify feedback and reports on ground sentiments has been appointed by Najib to ensure they were accurate.
“A more rigorous mechanism to shortlist election candidates would also be used for GE14,” the portal reported.
Ahmad Zahid said evaluation of candidates was done based on being winnable and likeable.
“Being winnable also depends on the party’s strength because the candidate represents the party, but being likeable will cut across all lines,” he said.
He also said the party’s analysis would focus on characteristics of parliamentary and state seats when asked whether the party would pay extra attention to preparations in certain states that are seen as possible key battlegrounds such as Terengganu and Kedah.