Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Umno launches internal survey on possibility of teaming up with PKR, DAP

Party decision-makers are keen to know where Umno stands in the new political landscape.

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Umno has launched an internal survey involving critical communications staff to gauge whether members are open to working with PKR and DAP.

Just a few months ago, it was a foregone conclusion that the Malay party would have no form of cooperation with the two parties, seen as its staunchest enemies.

But that could have changed following a revelation that former leader Najib Razak, who still wields influence in Umno, and current president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi gave their backing to Anwar Ibrahim in the PKR strongman’s bid to topple the Perikatan Nasional government last month.

Sources in Umno told MalaysiaNow that the survey, an internal “opinion poll” involving its communications staff nationwide, will also gauge views on the party’s cooperation with PAS in Muafakat Nasional, the year-old historic charter signed by the two biggest Malay parties during their time in the opposition.

“Interestingly, one of the questions in the survey is whether Umno should forge a cooperation with PKR and DAP,” the source who is familiar with the survey told MalaysiaNow.

It added that there was also a critical need to find out the political direction of Umno, and whether it should stick with Muafakat or extend such a cooperation with Bersatu, the other Malay party formed by a breakaway faction of Umno at the height of the 1MDB saga during Najib’s rule.

Last month, MalaysiaNow revealed that Najib and Zahid, who between them have been slapped with a total of 79 corruption charges, had jointly written a letter to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to express support for Anwar.

“One of the questions in the survey is whether Umno should forge a cooperation with PKR and DAP.”

The letter was sent to the palace just two days before Anwar’s audience with Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, where the veteran politician failed to make good on a promise to provide proof that he had the majority support of MPs to form a government.

Najib and Zahid have never denied the contents of the letter.

The internal survey comes just days after Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government survived a crucial vote on the budget which the opposition had planned to turn into a confidence motion against him.

A coming together of Najib and Anwar, who were once allies in the Umno echelons in the 1990s, was apparent during the recent budget debate.

The duo said their support for the budget was conditional, and there was intense speculation that they were bent on scuttling the budget.

But a much publicised plan to vote down the budget on Nov 26 did not materialise.

Instead, MalaysiaNow reported that Najib’s refusal to proceed with the plan forced Anwar to instruct Pakatan Harapan MPs to stand down, leading to the budget being passed by voice vote.

The Umno survey also comes amid talk that the 15th general election must be held in the coming year to put to rest allegations that Muhyiddin’s government, which was formed on the back of PH’s collapse in February, has no mandate.

“One answer the survey hopes to find is whether Umno’s exclusive cooperation with PAS at the election would translate into overwhelming support from the Malays,” the source told MalaysiaNow.

Political observer Shamsul Amri Baharuddin of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia believes that Umno decision-makers hope to kill two birds with one stone with the internal survey.

“It wants an honest evaluation of its influence on members and non-members,” said Shamsul.

He added that Umno is keen to know if PAS is still committed to the Muafakat charter, following the Islamist party’s change of fortunes having tasted federal power for the first time in four decades.

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