Amid PAS overtures, Umno members caution party against veering too far right

Amid PAS overtures, Umno members caution party against veering too far right

KUALA LUMPUR,. Umno must remain centrist and independent in order to survive in Malaysia Baru, its members have warned.

Although the party’s top leadership has decided to cooperate with PAS, many of its members are concerned as to whether this “working relationship” will result in Umno becoming more conservative and right-wing in its outlook.

Bangi Umno Youth Chief Mohd Noshrullah Mohd Zabidi said although he welcomes efforts by party leaders to cooperate with PAS, Umno itself must remain centrist.

“At the moment, it seems like the right thing to do for Umno to cooperate with PAS, however we cannot regurgitate rhetoric that are too right-wing. We risk alienating non-Malays by doing so,” he told Malay Mail when met at the sidelines of this year’s Umno general assembly.

“We must remain a party that is centrist and remain relevant to a multicultural Malaysia,’’ he added.

Noshrullah also believes that Umno should be careful with its alliance with PAS, as the Islamist party had failed to bring in votes for Barisan Nasional in the Sg Kandis and Balakong by-elections.

“This is evident in Sg Kandis and even in Balakong where PAS voters did not come out to vote for BN candidates. However for Seri Setia, there is an uptick of votes for PAS due to Umno’s support. It is something that we need to observe closely,’’ he said.

Commenting on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, Noshrullah said he wants Umno members to thoroughly evaluate the charges laid against former party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak before writing him off as a guilty.

“That does not mean that Datuk Seri Najib is guilty. It is up to the courts to decide, yet there are Umno members already saying that he is fully to blame. I don’t agree with that,’’ he said.

For Kuala Kangsar Puteri Umno member Nurul Ashikin Yaakob, Umno’s cooperation with PAS may yield positive results but the party needs to remain moderate in its views.

“Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid should have forged cooperation with PAS from the get-go as it stands as a solidarity of the Malays on common grounds of race and religion.

“However, I agree with KJ (Khairy Jamaluddin) that Umno has to remain on the middle path. If we cannot maintain that then wherever we go there will be instability. We need to repair the parts of Umno that are damaged and weak, and then move on,’’ she said.

Nurul Ashikin also said the party should not cooperate with Pakatan Harapan, amid talks of a unity government between Umno and the latter.

“I disagree with the idea of co-operating with Pakatan Harapan 100 per cent, because why would be stooping to their level our level. Why should we do so merely to gain back power?” she said.

Titiwangsa Umno Youth chief Datuk Nazir Hussin Akhtar Hussin said Umno should not determine its future based on deals or agreements with other political parties.

“Umno must work to bolster its strength first before we discuss any cooperation with any (political) parties. There still much to do to reform the party and yet we are tolerating such talks about a unity government which should not be the way.

“Even our cooperation with PAS, it should not erode the party’s centrist stance. We cannot be a party that swings to the ultra right,’’ he said.

Tanjung Karang Wanita Umno delegate Datuk Julia Ismail, 46, said she is confident that the cooperation would benefit both parties greatly.

“At the present Umno needs PAS, as it seems as though we are alone. We need to be together, and PAS is no stranger given its struggles for Islam.

“Looking at PH they are more (politically) mixed, but if Umno and PAS have a good relationship then it could possibly lead to our eventual return, hence why the co-operation represents hope to what is left of Umno following the general election. But I am confident it will not negatively impact us and we will continue to soldier on.”