KUALA LUMPUR: A training centre for Umno located amid the tranquil environment of a village in Pahang will continue to serve the party despite its fall from power last May, and will now prepare its leaders in their new role as opposition politicians.
The party says since the general election, it has been facing financial problems to organise programmes for members at Pusat Latihan Memperkasa Ummah (Community Empowerment Training Centre), which sits on a 23-acre plot of land in Janda Baik, some 30 km from the popular Genting Highlands hill resort.
But Umno Supreme Council member Lokman Noor Adam said plans were underway to hold a course there in the near future to train its members, as it changes its role to that of an opposition party.
“There has been no proposal to end the use of the camp,” he said, following FMT’s report on the centre recently.
“We certainly need to reduce our expenditure and will look into how to do this under the iron rule,” he said, taking a shot at the authorities’ move to freeze the party’s bank accounts.
The centre is now silent, and residents met by FMT said it was a far cry from the noisy weekend activities held for Umno members and leaders in the past.
One neighbour who operates a homestay nearby said he believed the centre was used to “brainwash” Umno members with drills aimed at rivals PAS and DAP.
An aerial view of the site showed that it had two large buildings and nine small ones, together with accommodation facilities.
Lokman said the centre would host a course by pro-Umno NGO Pemantau Malaysia Baru next month, where members would be given “basic training on becoming an effective opposition”.
With funding now a problem following action taken on party leaders, Lokman said the party was banking on supporters’ generosity.
“If our leaders’ money is depleted and we are unable to bear costs of training, I am confident that the people will contribute to ensure Umno remains alive and relevant,” he said.
Lokman, however, denied FMT’s report quoting locals, who said they had seen flags of DAP and PAS being used for mock events, where rival leaders were vilified.
He said while Umno had attacked DAP over its “Malaysian Malaysia” battlecry, it had entered into a “truce” with PAS.