Following the departure of a number of Sabah Umno’s elected representatives and division heads, party leaders from the peninsula are said to be preparing their exit to join the Pakatan Harapan ruling coalition.
This may result in Umno being pulled apart in different directions.
“Those who are waiting to join Pakatan are watching what each Pakatan component party can offer in terms of position, stability and allocations,” said an Umno source.
“Many, however, are keen to join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) as this is the party of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself and it is most similar to Umno.”
The source added that those who want to switch parties fear that if they jump to Bersatu now, they may be sidelined by PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim later.
“Soon, there will be a breakup of Umno, with the leaders moving in three main groups. One will be led by former vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and current deputy Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan into Bersatu, while another faction, headed by Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, will join PKR. The rest will stay on in Umno under its president, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Nazri, the Padang Rengas MP, agrees that many top Umno leaders want to join Pakatan, but said that he wanted to join the coalition as an Umno member.
“Yes, it is true there were talks between Pakatan and Umno leaders, but this was to ensure that Umno will not be deregistered.
“Some of us went to see Dr Mahathir and proposed that we join Pakatan, but his condition was too stiff for us. He said for us to join Pakatan, we must deregister Umno. The grassroots still want Umno and we could not do that,” said Nazri.
“So, I went to meet Anwar. As we know, the Pakatan agreement is Dr Mahathir will pass the baton to Anwar. We proposed a unity government between Umno, PKR and DAP.”
According to Nazri, Anwar wanted to wait until he becomes prime minister before deciding on this proposal.
Nazri added that although he wants to remain in Umno, if the party were to be deregistered before Anwar took over as prime minister, he would then likely join PKR.
“How can I join Bersatu because it will be them who got Umno deregistered?” he said.
A photograph of another meeting between Dr Mahathir and a few Umno leaders last October went viral yesterday.
The Umno leaders in the photo were Mohamad, treasurer Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, Tanjung Karang MP Tan Sri Noh Omar, Larut MP Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin and Arau MP Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim.
“There will be a historical event happening soon,” Shahidan told Sin Chew Daily, adding that if Perlis Umno leaders crossed over to Pakatan, the Barisan-led state government would collapse.
Meanwhile, Umno Youth chief Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi said party leaders who want to leave, should just do so and not corrupt Umno any more.
“If we are to lose these leaders, so be it. This is the process of Umno reinventing itself. The Umno grassroots are intact.
“It is those who have self-interests and skeletons in the cupboard and who cannot withstand the pressures of being investigated by the authorities who are leaving,” he added.
Meanwhile, those who left Sabah Umno on Wednesday will meet today to decide whether to accept offers from Parti Warisan Sabah and parties within Pakatan.
A source said that Warisan has already offered the ex-Umno lawmakers positions in the state government and the party, but not many are inclined to accept the Warisan offer because they feel there is a need to be closer to the federal government.
“Bersatu is the strongest party for now. PKR has most seats in the government but it doesn’t champion the rights of the bumiputra. DAP and Amanah are not our cups of tea,” said the source.