Perak Umno in disarray

(The Malaysian Insider) – Following the defection of Perak state assemblyman Datuk Nasarudin Hashim to PKR, Umno representatives in the state are now complaining of being sidelined by the party leadership.

They told The Malaysian Insider today that the Umno leadership must keep the people’s interest ahead of the party if it was serious about taking over Perak from Pakatan Rakyat.

They said infighting in Perak Umno has led to some of the party’s representatives being unable to perform their duties effectively.

The rift within the state Umno started soon after the party’s divisional meetings late last year, where some assemblymen lost their positions and it became public with Nasarudin’s defection.

The crossover also came as a blow to Perak Umno chief Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali, who was said to be having problems working with some of the party’s assemblymen, as he had promised to topple the PR-led government through defection, by Aug 31 last year.

“I am disappointed with the leadership at the divisional and state level as they are not doing anything for the next election.

“We will end up like Kelantan, where they are very happy to lead the divisions, but do not want to win elections,” said Pengkalan Baharu assembyman Datuk Hamdi Abu Bakar.

The former Beruas Umno chief who lost his post in the party election last October, however, denied that he was thinking of crossing over, adding that the situation in Perak has calmed down after a meeting with party deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“But they must not be complacent,” said Hamdi.

Another assemblyman, Hamidah Osman, said the sidelining of elected representatives in favour of division chiefs would further erode the people's confidence in the party.

“There should be more room for the people, for their representatives. What is going to happen if the people’s confidence in Umno continues to decline?” said the Sungai Rapat assemblyman, who is Barisan Nasional’s (BN) sole representative within the Gopeng federal constituency.

“If they want to win the people’s support, they should not be focussing only on Umno members,” she told The Malaysian Insider, admitting that she has been contacted by a PKR official to defect but had rejected the offer.

Hamidah added that Umno divisional leaders were only interested in protecting their positions within the party instead of focussing on strengthening the party.

Lintang state assemblyman Datuk Ahamad Pakeh Adam claimed that many Umno representatives in the state are facing the same problems, but he added that they were not ready yet to defect to PR.

Still, he did not rule out the possibility.

“There will be more,” said Ahamad on Perak Menteri Besar’s remark that three Umno assemblymen would be joining PR.

Soon after Bota assemblyman Nasarudin joined PKR, Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin claimed that three more Umno representatives would defect to one of the PR parties.

The defection of the former Parit MP brought the number of PR representatives to 31 against BN’s 27.