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State polls to test loyalties of Umno-DAP grassroots

Despite the inter-party cooperation at the federal level, questions remain over whether the grassroots will heed their leaders' call for mutual support at the state elections.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke (centre) takes a picture at the Umno general assembly at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, June 9. Photo: Bernama
DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke (centre) takes a picture at the Umno general assembly at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, June 9. Photo: Bernama

Questions are swirling over the extent to which the Umno grassroots will support DAP and vice versa, as election-facing states draw closer to a series of polls expected to provide the first yardstick for political backing since the 15th general election (GE15) last year. 

Ties between the two parties have been strained despite the agreement for an understanding at the federal level by top leaders in the wake of GE15.  

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, a Gombak Umno member said it was difficult to imagine himself voting for a candidate from a Pakatan Harapan (PH) component party given their history of enmity. 

Razman Hakimi Abdullah, who is registered to vote in Hulu Kelang, also cited to the recent Umno general assembly, where youth leader Muhamad Akmal Saleh demanded that DAP apologise and retract what he described as the insults hurled at Umno throughout the years. 

"It was a demand with legitimate grounds," he said. "DAP leaders should do this if they want the support of the Umno grassroots. 

"We were insulted and despised when DAP leaders, especially Lim Kit Siang, endorsed the narrative of Umno as a corrupt party. As if all of us took bribes. 

"But now, when just one of their leaders is linked to wrongoing, they ask the people not to punish the entire party," he added, referring to Human Resources Minister V Sivakumar. 

"This is why they need to apologise. Many Umno members felt themselves badly used." 

On the plans by PH and Barisan Nasional (BN) ahead of the elections to be held in six states, Razman said it would not be fair if candidates from Umno were not allowed to contest just to make way for others from the coalition led by Anwar Ibrahim.

He said such matters should be determined by the people, who had the right to choose their elected representatives.

Razman himself said he felt uncomfortable with the performance of the current assemblyman for Hulu Kelang, adding that he might shift his support to Perikatan Nasional. 

"Even if they clash, they should let the people choose," he said. 

"Any misstep in such matters might cause party members not to vote, or worse, to vote for the opponents."

A DAP member from Sembrong meanwhile who asked to be known as Abdullah said the cooperation between BN and PH was more important for Umno as DAP was still able to defend its traditional seats in the urban areas. 

Without Umno, he said, DAP and its fellow PH components might still win in developing areas.

For him, the main question is whether Umno will be able to defend the seats that it currently holds. 

Umno performed poorly at GE15, winning an all-time low of 26 seats in Parliament and losing a number of its strongholds to PN, whose component PAS won the highest number of seats followed by DAP. 

"Maybe the Umno members who are still against the joint efforts with DAP do not understand why such cooperation is needed," Abdullah said. 

"We in DAP understand the situation, so we don't feel awkward about it." 

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