Infighting in Umno, days after Johor’s big victory?

“In the first place, the party machinery was not happy when he contested in Machap. Everyone was already talking about betrayal when that happened and now, he is touted to be the MB?”

(NST) – Merely days after its victory in Johor, Barisan Nasional (BN), specifically Umno, is caught in yet another tangled web of alleged betrayal, deception and trickery.

After two weeks of showing a united front and a few hours of celebration for its two-thirds majority win, it appears that Umno, both in Johor and its headquarters, is now in disarray over its choice for the Johor Menteri Besar candidate.

The former MB Datuk Hasni Mohammad, who is Johor Umno chief, had yesterday announced his withdrawal from the race, proposing that the party choose a younger leader to helm the state, a statement which took many party leaders by surprise.

Among them was Umno veteran and Johor Baru division chief Tan Sri Shahrir Samad who did not mince his words when he took to his Facebook page to express how embarrassed he felt after finding out Hasni won’t be made MB.

Shahrir even hinted at the possibility that he might not attend this weekend’s Umno General Assembly (PAU2022) since he feels “too embarrassed to represent Johor Baru division” at the yearly meeting.

“At first, the story came to me through whispers. I was speechless. But then, Hasni came up with a statement. The language used was ‘soft’ and properly arranged (but) it confirmed that he will be replaced as Johor MB.

“I feel embarrassed. Throughout the campaigning period, I laughed at Pakatan Harapan (PH), Perikatan Nasional (PN) and their allies for failure to name their MB candidates.

“Looks like Johor Umno is not that great after all. We got the people’s mandate but we can’t even place the (Johor Umno) chief as the leader of the (state) government.

“I am sorry friends. I am so embarrassed with what has happened despite winning the state election handsomely under Hasni’s leadership,” Shahrir wrote.

The former Johor Baru member of parliament was not the only one who used social media platforms to air his unhappiness with the matter. A growing number of grassroot leaders and members have also joined the chorus.

As of Press time, one name has been rumoured to be the likely candidate to replace Hasni – the newly-elected Machap assemblyman Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi, the nephew of former Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and great-grandchild of party founder Datuk Onn Jaafar.

A grassroots leader who wanted to be known as “Z” questioned if Onn Hafiz’s nomination was to “fulfil Hishammuddin’s desire to one day become the Umno president”, adding that this would turn into a big issue during this year’s PAU if it is not quickly resolved.

“During the campaigning period, was the machinery selling a new ‘product’ to have a new MB? Backstabbing own friends in the dark? This is an evil plan concocted to cause chaos during PAU.

“Is it true H20 (Hishammuddin) is involved? Causing problems to Umno during the Sabah state election (in 2020) wasn’t enough? Why is the people’s mandate being betrayed?” Z said.

Hishammuddin, when contacted, dismissed the allegations against him as “crazy”, saying the question should be posed to Hasni instead.

High-placed sources within Umno gave two conflicting views over the matter to the New Straits Times.

According to one source, the whole debacle was made up by Umno’s “enemies” to cause infighting ahead of the general assembly this weekend.

“These are all media speculation to cause divisions within Umno. Do not play the wrong music. Stick to credible news.”

Another source, however, revealed a possible boycott by grassroots members, claiming many of them are not fond of having Onn Hafiz as the Johor MB.

“In the first place, the party machinery was not happy when he contested in Machap. Everyone was already talking about betrayal when that happened and now, he is touted to be the MB?

“This can’t be good for him. Maybe he didn’t betray anybody by lobbying this but it will still reflect badly on him and the Umno president (Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi) for being unable to stick to our promise of delivering Hasni as the MB.

“This weekend’s PAU is going to be a tough one for Zahid.

Clearly, Zahid is unhappy too but since he is the president, the grassroots will point their fingers at him,” the source said.