Umno grassroots in the dark on new direction

UMNO grassroots are unclear of the party’s new political alignment as mentioned by president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and are demanding an explanation.

Branch and divisional leaders said they want their president to explain if the new political alignment included working with its traditional enemies PKR and DAP.

Segamat Umno Youth chief Bastien Onn said members were unsure on the direction of the party for the next election.

“I don’t know what the new alignment is about. Is it cooperation with DAP and PKR? I don’t know.

Bastien was responding to a leaked audio clip, supposedly between Zahid and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, discussing the outcome of the last Umno general assembly, in which the party agreed to sever ties with Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional.

Prior to the assembly, Anwar revealed he held exploratory talks with Umno leaders about cooperating with Umno in GE15, but insisted that nothing had been finalised.

However, during the assembly, Zahid was adamant that his party would not work with PKR, DAP or Bersatu.

Bastien, who is also an Umno Youth exco member, hopes that Zahid can explain the idea of the new alignment, so that party members at grassroots level could better understand the situation.

“He needs to explain, the grassroots needs to know… whether this new alignment is cooperation with DAP and PKR, because we know from the audio clip, it sounds like it,” he added.

Party approval needed

Another Umno Youth branch chief, who declined to be named, said the party would have problems if the new alignment that Zahid talked about was tying up with PKR and DAP.

He said the matter must be decided through the party delegates.

“To me, Umno leaders will be finished if there is to be cooperation with Anwar and DAP. On average, the majority of Umno divisions have accepted that there will be no Anwar, no DAP.

“Yet, if the leaders decide on Umno with Anwar and DAP, they have to hold a general assembly again,” he said, adding that Umno members have accepted the party’s ruling that there is to be no cooperation, and that Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) will move on their own in the next general election.

“After winning (the election) there could be talks with other parties. Maybe that’s the new alignment that was meant.

“When there is an election but no party gets a majority, among the three coalitions – BN, PN and PH – then we can form a government with other parties,” he said.

During the president’s policy speech at the Umno 2020 general assembly at the end of March, Zahid said if Umno and BN needed to cooperate with other parties or coalitions, negotiations could take place after GE15.

In an interview with Umno Online earlier this week, Zahid reiterated the same statement that Umno’s direction would be determined after the next general election.

However, Bastien said rumours of cooperation only goes to show that Umno was not confident in winning GE15 and still wants to be the core party in Malaysian politics.

“If Zahid says this, then Umno has no confidence in going through the elections and emerging as the dominant party.

“I want leaders who can promise they can return Umno as the dominant party as it was when Najib Razak was the prime minister.

“It means that leaders who want to lead Umno need to be capable, and confident and can bring Umno and BN to what it was before,” he said.

To remain relevant

Meanwhile, Umno veteran Shahrir Samad sees the new alignment not working well with their arch rivals.

On the other hand, the former Johor Baru MP said the new alignment means reforms within Umno that will allow the party to stay fresh and not become outdated.

He said the new alignment would also enable Umno to win more comfortably compared with GE14, especially when Umno now controls the administration in five states, surpassing other parties.

“Umno is already strong enough and we are confident we can get more state governments. Umno will be able to add more seats,” he said.

Shahrir is also confident that Umno will be able to get through GE15 more easily even though the party is now seen to be divided, because he thinks voters have seen the true PH.

“People already know whether PH can rule. Voters already know that no political party can lie about a nonsensical manifesto.

“Now the voters understand their choice will determine whether the government is stable, can the country do well or not,” he said.