Umno division leaders appear unconvinced by PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim’s recent gestures and favourable comments about their party.
Many who spoke to MalaysiaNow said they were still committed to the “No Anwar” rule of thumb, saying they have no interest in allying with the one-time Umno deputy president who was sacked from the party, regardless of what he says.
This comes in the wake of Anwar’s statement that his party has had negotiations with Umno leaders, confirming speculation on the back of statements by Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former prime minister Najib Razak in support of the PKR leader’s bid to topple the government through defections.
“It is something positive. Because we will understand them more and they will understand us more,” Anwar said in a recent interview.
But Bandar Tun Razak Umno division chief Rizalman Mokhtar said Anwar’s remarks were designed to break apart the party.
He said grassroots members were adamant on not entering into an alliance with Anwar or DAP, adding that this was the stand of the Umno Supreme Council.
Putrajaya Umno deputy chief Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz meanwhile said party leaders and members were not in favour of forming an alliance with Anwar.
He said only a section of the party leadership was banking on Anwar returning to power.
“Not everyone in Umno thinks this way,” Faisal told MalaysiaNow.
“Perhaps Anwar is referring to statements made by certain Umno leaders that were similar to his,” he added, in an apparent jibe at a statement issued by Zahid in his capacity as Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman on March 4.
The statement, calling for Parliament to convene during the emergency, was almost identical to a separate statement issued by Anwar as Pakatan Harapan chairman.
BN announced that it was revoking Zahid’s statement following embarrassing comments on social media.
“(The statement) was similar in its choice of words and style, so maybe he (Anwar) believes this means Umno is getting more comfortable with him,” Faisal quipped.
He too insisted that the majority of Umno leaders and members are oppposed to any partnership with Anwar or DAP.
“If you don’t believe me, you may ask the Supreme Council to bring a declaration of support for Anwar in GE15, and see the reaction from Umno members,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sekijang Umno deputy division chief Anuar Manap said Anwar was getting more “desperate” for the position of prime minister, in the wake of key MPs quitting the party to declare support for Perikatan Nasional (PN).
“The PKR president is so desperate for support that he has to turn to Umno to form an alliance with him.”
He added that Anwar had in the past claimed to have the support of Umno MPs.
Last September, Anwar said he had enough numbers in the Dewan Rakyat to topple Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. A subsequent audience with the Agong to prove the claim, however, resulted in a rebuke by the palace.
“That issue of ‘I have the numbers’ was also related to support from Umno MPs, which turned out to be false,” Anuar told MalaysiaNow.
He believes that Anwar’s latest statement is to distract attention from the problems faced by PKR in the wake of these defections.
PKR has lost three MPs in the past month, further reducing its parliamentary presence to 35 MPs. The party won 47 seats in the May 2018 general election when it teamed up with Dr Mahathir Mohamad.