PETALING JAYA: Umno was decimated during GE14 because it had become so detached from reality that the party thought it was invincible, Khairy Jamaluddin (pic) told Channel NewsAsia (CNA).
"What happened was we became delusional; we got drunk on our own Kool-Aid and we got carried away," the Umno Uouth chief was quoted as saying.
He said nobody wanted to acknowledge there was a problem and he regretted keeping the truth that the grassroots had rejected them away from party leader Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Khairy said support began to wane especially after Najib expelled former deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and cabinet minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.
"We didn't want to bell the cat. Nobody, after Muhyiddin was purged, after Shafie was purged … Nobody wanted to acknowledge we have a problem. That was a terrible mistake on our part," Khairy said.
"Was there a signal? Yes, there were clear signals but we became oblivious to the signals," the 42-year-old told CNA.
Khairy said Umno had to accept that the party had been rejected by the people so the same mistake would not be repeated.
"This must not happen again, we must not ever allow our leaders in Umno 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 added.
He said among Umno's failures was just replacing heads instead of making systemic changes when Barisan Nasional first lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority in the 2008 elections.
Following the setback, Khairy's father-in-law and then-prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was replaced by Najib.
"They thought that by changing the head, everything would sort itself out. We cannot make the same mistake again," he told CNA.
"It's not just a rejection of Najib, but also a rejection of Umno and Barisan - a systemic rejection of what we stand for. If we can accept that, then we can start to rebuild this party."
He told CNA it was time for Umno to re-look at 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 raison d'être?" said
Khairy, who was re-elected as Rembau MP.
He said Barisan, which is now the Opposition, now has to play the role of check and balance against the Pakatan government.