PETALING JAYA: The “forced marriage” between Umno and Pakatan Harapan (PH) can last as long as there is mutual understanding and respect between both parties, says Umno Youth chief Dr Akmal Saleh.
Akmal agreed that it was difficult for former rivals Umno and PH to form a pact, given their history, but he was confident the two sides have buried the hatchet. Umno-PH ‘forced marriage’ can last, says the Youth chief.
“If we can sit together and understand each other, I don’t see this relationship ending,” he told FMT. “The same thing happened when we (Umno) were together with PAS (in the previous two governments). It was difficult in the early stages, but we managed to get through.”
Umno is a partner in the coalition government formed by PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim. Other partners include parties from Sabah and Sarawak.
Akmal added that Umno would rather align itself with those who are “really sincere”, than parties which preferred to “backstab”.
“Now that the government has been formed, both parties are obliged to ensure it will help the public and avoid as much politicking as possible. The people need us and we need to deliver,” said Akmal.
Umno MPs had previously allied with Perikatan Nasional (comprising Bersatu and PAS) in two previous governments, one led by Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin and later by Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Relationships later soured between Umno and Bersatu, leading to Umno withdrawing support for Muhyiddin’s government and the formation of a new government headed by Ismail.
On Sunday, Ismail said the Umno-PH ‘forced marriage’ can’t last, that cracks were appearing in the unity government. He described the partnership as the result of a forced marriage between ruling parties that lacked mutual love.
Ismail’s remarks came after leaders of Umno and DAP engaged in a spate of criticism against each other.
“If it’s a forced marriage, it won’t last long. If you force this sort of marriage, where there is no love between one another, cracks will be seen pretty soon and this can lead to a divorce,” he said.
However, Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim of PKR downplayed Ismail’s “forced marriage” analogy. He said Anwar enjoyed the support of a majority of MPs and had won a vote of confidence in the Dewan Rakyat in December.
“(I think) Ismail may have forgotten this fact,” the PKR man told FMT.
He was optimistic that the unity government would complete its term if Anwar manages to control the rising cost of living and upholds judicial independence by not involving himself with court cases involving Umno leaders.
“People are resigned to the fact that cooperation between PH and Umno is necessary, but with one caveat – that the Umno leaders in the government must face the rule of law and justice without fear and favour,” he added.
Ipoh Timur MP Howard Lee said it was normal for politicians to fire shots at one another but those in the unity government must avoid it since it could trigger unwanted racial sentiments.
“Our work in nation-building is more important than ‘love’ or ‘marriage’ between two parties,” said the former DAP Youth chief.