Umno is leaning towards taking on Perikatan Nasional (PN) in the Malacca polls over cooperating with them as the condition set out by the coalition is too difficult for the country’s oldest Malay-based party to accept.
Two Umno sources, an Umno supreme council member and a political operative close to Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, said their party took issue with the number of Malay-majority seats PN is eyeing.
The Umno supreme council leader, who spoke to Malaysiakini on condition of anonymity, said preliminary discussion saw Bersatu seeking eight seats while PAS wanted to contest in five.
The PN coalition comprises Bersatu, PAS, Gerakan, Star and SAPP. Star and SAPP are based in Sabah and will not be involved in the Malacca polls.
A political operative aligned to Zahid also gave a similar account of PN’s demands.
“PAS wants five, Bersatu wants eight. There are only 21 Malay-majority seats.
“So Umno will only be left with eight to contest in. How can that be?” the source told Malaysiakini on condition of anonymity.
Umno contested 18 state seats in Malacca at the last general election while its BN allies contested the remaining 10 of the 28 seats in the state assembly.
There are a total of 23 Malay majority seats in Malacca but some of them with substantial non-Malay population are contested by MCA and MIC.
MCA and MIC failed to win any seats in Malacca in the last electoral outing in 2018.
While Umno is keener to work with PAS, it is growing increasingly impatient with the Islamist party’s alliance with Bersatu.
PAS contested 24 Malacca state seats in the last general election but was decimated, failing to win any.
Bersatu, though a smaller party, has been trying to project itself as equal to Umno.
This has irritated Umno which wants to deal a blow to Bersatu.
The stalemate, if not resolved by nomination day on Nov 8, could see BN contesting in all 28 seats against PN.
With Pakatan Harapan also joining the fray, this would see multi-cornered fights in every constituency.
The Malacca polls, set for Nov 20, is significant; if Umno and BN can emerge victorious without PN, it will set a similar tone for the 15th general election.
The Umno supreme council has yet to formally decide on whether to cooperate with PN in the Malacca polls but Zahid has repeatedly and publicly expressed his objections.