KUALA TERENGGANU: A movement within Umno with a mission to be relevant again is threatening to put the Malay-centric party in the books of history.
With a handful of its members of parliament already openly saying that they will campaign for PKR in the Port Dickson by-election, sources have confirmed that there are three factions in the party.
These are Umno-PKR, Umno-Pas and a team that wants Umno to stand on its own and reform.
Speaking to the New Straits Times, former Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim was of the opinion that the Umno and Pas cooperation would continue, saying that “it is for sure, we are going to work with them all the way through. This is the hope”.
However, he hoped the new pact, which was “focused on the Malays”, would, in the future, include Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), Gabungan Parti Sarawak, Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) and, possibly, PKR.
He said the movement under the new Malaysia should be a “Bumiputera” coalition.
He said he was in support of any leader — be it Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, PKR president-elect Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim or even their parties’ leadership — so long as they could unite the Malays and Bumiputera because in terms of the economy and politics, the latter lagged behind those of other races.
A top Umno Supreme Council member rubbished any ideas of working with PKR, stating that those who, like Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, had openly pledged their support to Anwar and the PKR campaign had little to no influence in the party.
He said Umno was focused to work with Pas and that discussions have been ongoing even before the 14th General Election.
“We are keeping it slow and on the low”, but it is high time a that a party that puts Islam and Malay rights first works together.
“Many people want us to reform and rejuvenate, and we are trying, but cooperating with Pas is a positive step.”
Another Umno Supreme Council member, who is also a member of parliament, was shocked when the NST put forth to him a question on the Umno-PKR meetings.
“How did you know this?” he asked. He reasoned that Umno held discussions with PKR on how to gain back power into the government. It is hard for us to return to power if we don’t start now. We need to find ways.”
An Umno Youth executive council member said at the grassroots level, Umno members believed the Umno and Pas cooperation was more favourable compared with a cooperation with PKR.
He said Umno was directionless and had no leadership despite many trying to show their influence.
“Money politics and cronyism that the president promised to fight is widespread.
“At this rate, we, who want to support the party’s rejuvenation plan, will get tired at one point.
“We would probably give up when the time is right.”
A newly-elected Umno Supreme Council member, however, said there was a split on what he described as “this backdoor government stuff”.
“Some want shortcuts and are willing to entertain getting into bed with Bersatu as well as PKR’s Teams A and B. Others want to respect the people’s vote and try again, win it fair and square in GE15.”
He said many in the party did not know what the party’s game plan was and whether there was one to begin with.
The disagreements, he said, were about what kind of approach Umno should take as an opposition party.
“Do we take the Malay purist route with Pas or stay centrist by getting support across the country and races? There is suspicion that there is a correlation between the two splits.
“If you are in the progressive camp, you are more likely to disavow this backdoor shortcut exploits.
“The ‘old school camp’ have it easier because instinctively it is easier to process and comprehend it for the average Umno member.
“As always, the right wing message is easier to sell. It is reductive.”
Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, who was believed to have met Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Hasan on Thursday, hinted at the possibility of BN’s dissolution and the formation of a new opposition bloc.
“If the alliance had its life span, so does BN,” he was quoted by Malaysiakini after opening the first Dewan Himpunan Penyokong Pas convention at the Gong Badak indoor stadium.
“This (formation of a new opposition coalition) would not be the first time. We must look at the early scenario since 1955. Umno also joined the Bandung Conference or Asian-African conference during (former Pas president) Dr Burhanuddin’s (Helmy) time.
“Pas was a part of the movement to secure the country’s independence in 1957, albeit we differed in deciding how independence should be fulfilled.
“When the country needed unity following the May 13 incident (in 1969), Pas also joined the coalition government.
“When the Alliance was disbanded and BN was formed, Pas was involved. If the alliance had its lifespan, so does BN.”
Hadi said Pas was willing to cooperate with anyone when it came to the benefit of the country and its people.