Umno bets on race appeal to bury Pakatan

(The Malaysian Insider) KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 – Umno appears to have discarded plans to widen the party’s appeal and speak for all Malaysians. Facing pressure from its rank and file, and concerned that its mantle as defender of Malay rights is under threat from PAS, the ruling party is retreating into its own cocoon.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin gave a sneak peek of this insecure feeling during yesterday’s Barisan Nasional (BN) supreme council meeting.

During the meeting, Gerakan president Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon highlighted a series of incendiary commentaries in the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia and said he was troubled by the effect it was having on race relations.

Responding to this, Muhyiddin, who is shaping up to be a hawk in the administration, justified the pitch taken by saying that Malays believe that Umno is weak and giving in too much to the demands of non-Malays.

It is understood that none of the leaders of BN component parties challenged this view.

A BN leader told The Malaysian Insider: “There is a hardening of Umno’s position. The openness and willingness to become more inclusive is not evident.”

In the aftermatch of Election 2008 Umno leaders publicly said they could no longer only speak for one race.

But not anymore.

Senior party officials and a think-tank set up to rejuvenate the party believe that the Malay vote has to be secured above everything else.

In addition, the party officials feel that non-Malays have become too vocal and demanding since the general elections.

In recent weeks, Umno leaders and Utusan Malaysia have become more strident in their remarks in what is a palpable attempt to shore up its position as the defender of Malay interests.

The DAP has been the subject of heavy bombardment of late, with Umno and Utusan accusing the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) party of being anti-Malay and anti-Malay rulers.

A minor dispute over the illegal seizure of beer in Selangor has been turned into a major affront to Muslim rights.

And Muhyiddin appears to be at the forefront of a campaign to restore Umno as the ultimate defender of the Malays and Islam.

Read more at: Umno bets on race appeal to bury Pakatan