Many emotions were left unfelt, many desires unfulfilled, after the first day of the Umno general assembly, but more suspense lies in store as different factions struggle for control of Malaysia’s biggest Malay-based party.
Epithets such as “hypocrite”, “enemy”, and “hate politics” had rung out even while calls for “unity” resounded in the assembly hall as party leaders vented their frustration about the current state of affairs in Umno.
But behind the veil are tales of hidden betrayal among friends, secret handshakes with enemies, and the seemingly never-ending struggle to stay at the top.
To ordinary folk, the two-day general assembly, in Umno’s diamond jubilee year, is a show of solidarity within a party founded on Malay interests which developed multiracial appeal through its leadership of Barisan Nasional (BN).
However, secret meetings among different factions are heating up the party climate, causing Umno’s deputy president Mohamad Hasan to set the tone in his speech to the general assembly yesterday.
Mohamad had urged Umno members not to be confused about the party’s real enemies, adding that ”wolves in sheep’s clothing” were more destructive to the party.
Political strategist Syed Arabi Idid, commenting on the day’s proceedings, said backstabbers and “serpents” exist in any political party but the situation worsens when the party is weak.
He told FMT that Umno is run by warlords who operate within the power structure. “But now, the party is not as strong as before. Warlords are looking and asking what is in it for them, thus creating factions”.
He said it was for that reason that Mohamad’s speech was centred on encouraging members to stay united while reminding them “Umno has a chance to win. So stay on. Don’t hop.”
Another political analyst, Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia, said some Umno MPs may feel the party lacks a clear direction of where it is heading.
He said party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi may fail to garner support among Umno’s MPs as he did not hold a government position. “That is why some of them dare to speak up against him,” he said.
MPs who hold government positions may be looking out for their own interests by maintaining a good relationship with PPBM despite party calls to cut ties with the ruling party after the next general election.
“In that sense there are serpents, they want to look after their individual interest in government and at the same time be seen working in the interest of the party so that they get support from Umno members,” he added.
Kamarul believes this behaviour will continue until the Umno presidential elections later this year where delegates will elect the party leader for the next three years.
“Until then this culture (backstabbers) will remain,” he said, adding that warlords will continue to lobby for their choice of party president.
But political analyst Azmi Hassan feels it is not necessary that Umno MPs who support Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin are betraying Umno.
“There could be a misunderstanding. When a minister or deputy minister supports the prime minister, they could be supporting his policies because they are in the government,” he told FMT.
The Umno general assembly continues today with Zahid expected to give a fiery speech to get everyone to toe the party line as the fight between Umno and PPBM heats up.
Source : FMT