Perak Umno in trouble

Speculation rife that more defections will take place

The party insider said the Perak Umno leadership has been non-active since the party went down in the March general election.

The Malay Mail

Perak Umno is in disarray, with news of Bota State assemblyman Datuk Nasaruddin Hashim's defection to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) now being accompanied by speculation that two more assemblymen are expected to jump ship.

The signs, according to some State Umno members, have been ominous but, they claimed, had been ignored by the party leadership. Just before the party held its divisional meetings last November, several State Umno leaders had expressed their unhappiness that “new” faces were not advised against contesting in some of the divisions, despite them not being eligible under party rules.

“Their concern was that the party would be disunited and this would affect the chances of Umno and Barisan Nasional winning the State back in the next general election. There were also divison chiefs who had sacrificed their parliamentary seats to contest for State seats during last March’s general election to accommodate these ‘new’ faces,” said a party insider.

“This alone had created dissatisfaction among members in the divisions affected but the incumbents had relented in the name of unity. But when these ‘new’ candidates decided to also run for division chief positions, those who had given way took it as another slap in their faces.“

To further add insult to injury, some of the “new” candidates received blessings from the party headquarters to contest for division head posts.

This was the case for Nasaruddin as well as a few other division heads. Nasaruddin moved to a State seat and lost the party division chief’s post. The Larut division is facing a similar problem and incumbent chief Datuk Seri Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar is waiting for party headquarters to solve the matter.

“He is waiting for party headquarters to advise Larut MP Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin to stop contesting until the latter has true grassroots support.”

Hamzah, the Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister, had moved to Larut from the Ipoh Timur division in April after winning the March general election. He was parachuted to contest the Larut parliamentary seat, forcing Raja Ahmad Zainuddin to contest the Kubu Gajah State seat.

While he has been allowed to take on Raja Ahmad’s position as the Larut division head, former Malacca Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, who moved from the Kota Melaka division to Alor Gajah, was not allowed to contest any post in the new division.

These contradicting directives had angered some division heads in Perak.

Umno members would vote MPs and not State assemblymen as the division chiefs. However, in this case, some of the incumbent division heads had already made their sacrifice by relinquishing their parliamentary seats.

“The incumbents are saying that losing the division chief post is one thing, losing respect of party members should they lose in the divisions to the very people they had made way for is even worse. It is not just Umno members they are talking about. They also ‘lose face’ among members of other component parties in BN.”

The party insider said the Perak Umno leadership has been non-active since the party went down in the March general election. Losing two seats less than required to form the State government, the State party leadership headed by Datuk Seri Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali had been accused of hibernating since then.

Tajol Rosli’s perceived inability to be on top of matters in the State has disappointed several division chiefs, who are also State assemblymen, and this has prompted not only Nasaruddin to defect, but could also cajole several others to seriously think of moving to the opposition.