THE Umno leadership is in overdrive with meetings and deal-making after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim claimed to have the numbers to change the government and become the new prime minister.
But the party’s grassroots are bewildered at the way the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government is falling apart, and why Umno wants to consider withdrawing from the ruling coalition.
The options are confusing, and none of them appealing, said those The Malaysian Insight spoke to.
Firstly, for Umno to work with Anwar, who is PKR president, would mean supporting PKR’s ally, DAP, which Umno considers an old enemy in Malaysia’s history of race-based politics.
Federal Territory Umno youth chief Mohd Nisham Mashidi said the grassroots “do not want DAP, nor Anwar, nor Dr Mahathir”.
“This is the current grassroots sentiment and it is very strong. There is a lot of confusion and questions,” Nisham told The Malaysian Insight.
Bandar Tun Razak division chief Rizalman Mokhtar said, to begin with, grassroots members do not understand why Umno should withdraw its support for the PN government.
“The political bureau should know its bottom-line instead of being tossed about by Anwar’s political game.
“If Umno knows its stand, it will not have to get involved in what Anwar is doing. I see the problem now as Umno following the beat of Anwar’s drum,” said Rizalman.
He was referring to the Umno political bureau’s decision after Anwar’s audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong earlier this week to consider withdrawing from PN and to seek a revision of terms in its support for the PN government.
‘PAS has side-lined Umno’
An Umno assemblyman who did not want to be named also questioned the party’s direction and cooperation in relation to its ally, PAS.
He criticised PAS for betraying Umno by supporting Muhyiddin and Bersatu, saying the Islamist party was doing so just to stay in the government.
The Selangor assemblyman said Umno members in the state are unhappy with PAS for cosying up to Bersatu and for opting to register PN as a political coalition.
Umno, however, refuses to join the PN coalition and wants to maintain with PAS under Muafakat Nasional as its only formal agreement for political cooperation.
“PAS has side-lined Umno after finding cooperation with Bersatu more profitable.
“How can there be no tension in Umno’s relationship with PAS? It is akin to someone telling you they love you, but gets married to someone else.
“PAS wants to cooperate with Umno in a pact we have both signed, but ends up in a relationship with Bersatu. How does that make Umno feel?” the assemblyman said.
Be ‘more dignified’
Segamat Umno youth chief Bastien Onn feels Umno does not need to form alliances with any other group to become the government.
Even if this means the party has to be in the opposition, this would be better and “more dignified” rather than being wooed by other groups that want to hold on to power.
“If Umno is given the choice, it is better not to join any group. Umno can be the opposition again. I even prefer this for now, to give Umno the space to rejuvenate the party and face the next general election.
“Instead of competing with another group, it’s better for Umno to be the opposition, and re-establish ourselves as a government without the help of other parties,” Bastien said.
He also said all political leaders should set aside political disputes and efforts to take over the government temporarily.
“It is better to have a temporary ceasefire until Covid-19 subsides and a general election is held, so politicians can focus on dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.”
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT