PETALING JAYA: Umno's biggest mistake in the run-up to the 14th General Election was its failure to acknowledge that the grassroots had rejected the party, said its Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin. "What happened was we became delusional; we got drunk on our own Kool-Aid and we got carried away. "We didn't want to bell the cat. Nobody, after former deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was purged, after Datuk Seri Shafie was purged … Nobody wanted to acknowledge we had a problem. That was a terrible mistake on our part," he told Channel News Asia yesterday. Khairy said he wished he had told then-prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Abdul Razak what it meant after he dropped Muhyiddin and Shafie from his Cabinet after both publicly criticised him over 1MDB. He said the mistake of failing to speak the truth in order to protect Najib is one he will personally have to live with for the rest of his life. "Was there a signal? Yes, there were clear signals but we became oblivious to the signals," Khairy said. "This must not happen again, we must not ever allow Umno leaders to be detached from reality and not ask tough questions. If we continue with our feudal mindset of protecting the leader from the truth, Umno will go extinct," he said. Khairy said the loss was a collective responsibility while at the same time blaming Najib's leadership for BN's disastrous showing. He said both BN and Umno need to accept that they have been systemically rejected by the people. He said when BN lost its two-thirds majority in 2008, the then-prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was replaced by Najib but the party did not change operationally. The Umno Youth chief said Umno thought that by changing the head everything will sort itself out. "We cannot make the same mistake again," Khairy said. He pointed out it was not just rejection of Najib, but also the rejection of Umno and BN. "It was a systemic rejection of what we stand for and if we can accept that, then we can start to rebuild this party," he added. Khairy said there were four things Umno and BN would have to do in the next year or two in order to offer itself as a "credible alternative" to the PH government within five years. He said for starters, Umno and BN need to make sure the numbers are preserved. Secondly, he said Umno needs to defend itself against any attempts from the PH government to de-register the party for failing to hold its party elections. He said thirdly, BN needs to learn to be a strong and credible opposition in Parliament by providing checks and balances. Khairy said finally, the party needs to work on structural changes to reflect the changing aspirations of the people. He said it was time for Umno to re-look its structure, including the possibility of opening its membership to all Malaysians regardless of race or religion. "We should seriously consider all options. What model do we want? United Malays National Organisation or United Malaysian National Organisation? What is our DNA, what is our reason d'être? "These questions need to be asked; we should not be fixed in what model we take. Everything is on the table," Khairy said.