Umno leaders snub call to review position in govt after Kemaman loss

Puad Zarkashi and Razlan Rafii say any by-election outcome would have no bearing on the unity government.

(FMT) – Two Umno Supreme Council members have brushed off a call for the party to review its position in the unity government following its defeat in the Kemaman by-election last weekend.

Puad Zarkashi, the Rengit assemblyman, said Umno’s loss – its latest election defeat following its disastrous outing in the six state polls in August – did not mean that the party should quit Anwar Ibrahim’s government.

If anything, it needed to focus on its rapport with Pakatan Harapan (PH), which was growing stronger by the day, he said.

Puad said PH and Umno were becoming more in tune, citing their involvement in the Bumiputera economic congress scheduled to meet in January.

“It shows that the unity government is committed. Umno will only reconsider its position in the unity government if we are backstabbed,” he told FMT.

Puad was responding to Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin, who said Umno should reassess its cooperation with PH after the landslide victory recorded by PAS at the Kemaman by-election last Saturday.

PAS candidate Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar, who is also the Terengganu menteri besar, won with a majority of 37,220 votes, securing a total of 64,998 in a straight fight with Barisan Nasional candidate, Raja Affandi Raja Noor.

Raja Affandi, a retired general and former defence forces chief, garnered 27,778 votes.

Razlan Rafii meanwhile said that Muhyiddin’s call would do nothing to maintain political stability.

He said the agreement to maintain stability which led to the formation of the unity government would not be affected by the outcome of any by-election.

“Whatever Muhyiddin is pushing for is not dissimilar to the backdoor government he created before, which only caused hardship for the people.”

He also dismissed claims that Umno members had backed PAS in the by-election, saying Samsuri would have won 70,000 to 80,000 votes if this were so.

“There’s no truth to this claim at all.”

PAS won the seat in the 15th general election with a majority of 27,179 votes through its candidate, Che Alias Hamid, who received 65,714 votes against the 38,535 won by Terengganu Umno chairman and former menteri besar Ahmad Said.

Samsuri won the Dec 2 by-election by an increased majority of some 10,000 more.