After stumbling forward, BN at standstill again from Najib-Nazri spat

Zainal Epi, Malay Mail Online

The latest Umno intra-party spat between Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has paused the small steps forward taken in the last six months by the Opposition Barisan Nasional (BN).

The Malay nationalist party has reached another fork after its shock defeat in Election 2018 and members must decide its future after president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi chose to return from his voluntary leave of absence and immediately appointed his predecessor Najib as the BN’s advisory council chairman.

Nazri, an Umno council member, openly criticised the appointment.

Seen as a maverick, the Padang Rengas MP this time has found support in fellow Umno lawmaker, Khairy Jamaluddin who warned that the party may be headed for another spit if they are expelled.

Zahid, who knows the strength of both leaders, is in a pickle as any disciplinary action, even issuing a warning letter, could result in backlash from Umno grassroots members.

After all, his own suitability to be leader is still being assessed in silence. Many Umno grassroots believe Zahid picked Najib to shore up his own position in the party after taking a leave of absence for six months despite winning the internal party presidential election and leaving the ship to be steered by his deputy Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

The BN coalition really has only Umno now on which to ride forward. The other two component parties MCA and MIC are barely hanging on in the fast currents of the changing Malaysian political landscape.

Many Umno division leaders are refraining from commenting on the Najib-Nazri spat as they do not want internal party matters to worsen.

But one other Umno supreme council member, Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz has broken his silence, to express his hope that good sense will prevail.

“The spat is not necessary and not productive. We should be open enough to bring in as many experienced people as possible on board to help us, not ignoring them.

“Let them contribute in whatever they can to strengthen the party and if members do not agree, they can always vote them out in the next party election,” the former Special Affairs Department Strategic communications director said.

He even urged Umno members to emulate their political foes in PKR who stood solidly behind Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when the latter was on trial so that the party will survive the current dilemma.

He reminded Umno that the party’s unity should always come first and members should do all they can for the Malays and their religion and that their common nemesis is the Pakatan Harapan government.

Tun Faisal may have a point with Parliament now taking a vote to amend the Federal Constitution to lower the age of voters to 18 and allowing their automatic registration.

If Umno and by extension the BN does not unite for this constitutional motion because of the Najib-Nazri spat, it could well be another missed opportunity for the coalition.