Fix party first instead of blaming DAP, say 2 Umno leaders

One leader says DAP has given Umno more ‘face’ than Malay voters and held only a few Cabinet posts although it had a large number of parliamentary seats.

(FMT) – Two Umno leaders said the party should carry out reforms first instead of making DAP, its rival-turned-ally, a scapegoat for Umno’s disastrous outings in recent elections.

An Umno Youth leader who wished to remain anonymous said it was time the party “fixed its own issues”.

“At the last general election (in November last year), it was proven that Umno was rejected by the Malays, although the party wasn’t working with DAP then,” he told FMT.

The party won only 26 of 120 seats that it contested under the Barisan Nasional banner at the general election and were rivals with Pakatan Harapan, comprising DAP, PKR and Amanah.

He acknowledged that there were grassroot members, especially in the rural areas, who were uncomfortable with Umno’s alliance with DAP, reflected in Umno’s defeats in rural seats.

However, the source said that Umno should approach these unhappy voters and explain why there was a need to join forces with DAP, without hiding behind the excuse that it was the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who wanted a unity government.

“We can tell our voters that Umno will be the check and balance to DAP’s agenda,” he said in response to a call for the party to distance itself from Pakatan Harapan, especially DAP, at future elections.

The suggestion had come from Umno Supreme Council member Isham Jalil who said the party should contest future elections on its own, a move which would help win back supporters who had rejected Umno’s current alliance with DAP.

A division leader who also did not want to be named said while the alliance with DAP was a factor, Malay voters had rejected the party since the fall of former president Najib Razak.

The division leader also said that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s presidency did not help matters, but he was “not the only issue”.

There were a lot of decisions made by the top leadership that were pushing voters away, the source said.

“So let’s fix our own problem before talking about the alliance with DAP. If there’s one thing I could say, it is that DAP has given us more ‘face’ than Malay voters.”

The source pointed out that DAP held very few Cabinet positions, even though it had won 40 seats at the last general election, the most among all coalition partners in the unity government.

DAP has only four ministers in Anwar Ibrahim’s cabinet, which comprises 28 ministers and 27 deputy ministers.

“So there’s no point complaining about our alliance with DAP. Let’s reform our party first,” said the source.

A top DAP leader, who also did not want to be named, said Isham should stop blaming the party for the erosion of support for Umno.

The DAP leader said Umno was formed to protect the Malays, but over the years had benefited the elites and “abandoned the majority of the community”.

“And it’s coming to haunt them,” the source said, referring to the party’s poor performance at the polls.