KUALA LUMPUR – February 4, 2020: A renewed claim that Umno leaders were considering a pact with Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has led to a vociferous objection in cyberspace.
Over half of the 95,000 who had responded to a Facebook poll put up by Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Dr. Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki voted against the idea.
The ongoing ‘yes-or-no’ poll began last night in response to the claim that was rooted in what was described as an effort to stop PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from taking over as prime minister.
“I also would like to implore the public to state their view about the matter [in the comments section]. Your opinion is invaluable, and I will escalate it to the party’s top leadership,” Asyraf wrote. The poll ends on Thursday.
Mahathir is said to be facing pressure from Anwar’s camp to step down after Pakatan Harapan’s resounding defeat in the Tanjung Piai by-election last November.
Some political observers believed this pressure was the reason behind a secret meeting between 23 Umno parliamentarians and PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali soon after the by-election.
Azmin is known to be leading the pro-Mahathir camp within his party.
Those who expressed their disagreement through the poll insisted that Umno should fall for Mahathir’s ploy of using the party for his own survival.
“Do this and you, Umno leaders, will be splitting your grassroot support even more. Umno is doing well with the Muafakat Nasional (MN) front. Mahathir’s mess is PH’s mess. Let them deal with it. Umno should just keep on strengthening MN,” wrote Harun Putra.
There were also those who believed that the only instance in which Umno should support Mahathir is when Anwar stages a no-confidence vote against him in parliament.
“Do not betray your grassroots. A show of support in a vote of no-confidence so as to allow him to serve as PM for a full-term is enough. No pact should be forged with anyone from PH,” was Firdaus Azmi’s stern warning.
Others pointed out that Mahathir’s popularity among the Malays, which helped PH to defeat Barisan Nasional in the last general election, has faded as evident in the five by-elections losses by Pakatan and its Sabah ally Warisan.
“He has mocked Umno, called the party all sorts of names. He jeered the Malays, called us lazy and yet you guys (Umno leaders) are still entertaining him? Dear Umno leaders, once bitten twice shy,” commented Zulfauzy Awang.
According to sources in Umno, Zahid had yesterday told the party’s supreme council members four reasons why they should consider accepting the deal:
- (1) to respect Pas’ decision to agree to the deal. Pas is a component party of MN;
- (2) to save former party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is facing multiple corruption and other charges;
- (3) to prevent the deregistration of Umno, which he said will likely happen if Anwar becomes PM;
- (4) that he (Zahid) was ready to use his veto power as party president to accept or reject the deal.
After the meeting, supreme council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam claimed that Zahid had insisted that a cooperation with Mahathir will ensure Umno’s survival.
In response, Umno information chief Datuk Dr. Shamsul Anuar Nasarah slammed Lokman for publicising the content of the meeting and denied the claim that Zahid had already made-up his mind on the deal.
“He (Zahid) had merely floated the matter in order to prompt a discussion. No decision has been made. So there is no issue of him betraying Umno,” said Shamsul Anuar.