PETALING JAYA: Umno’s decision to turn to crowdfunding to finance its political activities and day-to-day running will serve as a test of true support among party members and supporters.
Political analyst Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani pointed out that the next general election would be the first time the cash-strapped party will contest as an opposition, with no federal funding at its disposal.
He noted that while others like Pakatan Harapan (PH) and PAS had successfully raised funds for their campaigns and election spending in the past, it will be Umno’s maiden venture into crowdfunding.
“If Umno can source a huge amount of funds, then I don’t think it will affect their preparation for the elections. Otherwise, they can be in trouble,“ he told theSun today.
“The problem is that they have been so dependent on government funding previously, now they have to explore other alternatives. If they can show that they can be a credible and tough opponent (to PH), then I think supporters will fund them.
“But it’s true, crowdfunding will be a huge test for Umno, and is a way to measure the support of not only the members, but its supporters as well,“ he added.
Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had on Wednesday announced the party was forced to crowdfund due to financial constraints, following the freezing of its bank accounts by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) since June last year.
Last month, the anti-graft body also filed a civil forfeiture suit against 41 entities to recover RM270 million related to 1MDB, with Umno said to be the biggest recipient, with a total of RM212 million.
Political scientist Wong Chin Huat said Umno’s move towards crowdfunding was commendable, as parties should not depend on only a few sources for funding as they could become beholden to the funder.
He believed that Umno would be aiming to raise small amounts from a larger number of citizens, and that these (donors) could translate into votes come the elections.
“Umno will not lose additional votes by asking for donation from the public. Instead, those who are willing to donate small amounts are more likely to vote for them,“ he said.
PAS information chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad said he was confident Umno would not fail in its crowdfunding, noting how the Islamist party has itself succeeded in similar campaigns in the past.
He said PAS’ members have been taught since the beginning to donate and contribute to the party, with election candidates also told to fund themselves during campaigning.
“Our members are trained to contribute to the party as soon as they join. So for instance, if a member receives a bonus, it is normal for them to allocate a certain amount for the party’s cause.
“That will also usually contribute about RM10 a month consistently. So if Umno is serious about crowdfunding, I’m confident they’ll make it work,“ he said.