PETALING JAYA: Several Umno leaders have backed Supreme Council member Isham Jalil’s call for the party leadership to stop telling its grassroots to vote for DAP in the coming state elections.
Umno Youth permanent chairman Wan Agyl Wan Hassan said Isham was right, and that Supreme Council member Ahmad Maslan was “way out of line” in urging members to support DAP candidates.
He said there were many past wounds which had yet to heal, pointing out that DAP and Umno had been political enemies for a long time.
“Asking the Umno grassroots to vote for DAP candidates is unacceptable to the grassroots,” he told FMT.
“While the top management of the party did decide that we work with Pakatan Harapan, that should be for the sake of the country. But it doesn’t mean Umno has to sacrifice its principles.
“Why can’t Ahmad ask us to vote for candidates from the unity government instead? It’s all about the messaging. Who asked him to tell us to vote for DAP?”
An Umno division leader, who asked to remain anonymous, said Umno grassroots only accepted forming the unity government with PH because it was what the King wanted.
“However, many members have yet to accept the idea of working together in the upcoming state elections,” he said, warning that Umno stood to lose even more members if more party leaders were to make statements like Ahmad’s.
“You have to understand that people in the party are divided into two camps, so if the top leadership makes statements like these, we would have more members jumping to the ‘anti-Zahid’ camp,” he said, referring to party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Meanwhile, an Umno Supreme Council member, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said Isham had a point as there was a rift in Umno between the top leadership and the grassroots, on top of the factions in the party.
“The leadership is making statements which are not pleasing to our grassroots and it cannot go on any longer like this,” he said.
“We have to get on the same page and stick to our principles because, if we don’t, by the next election, Umno’s situation will get even worse.”
Umno and DAP, who have long been adversaries, are now partners in the unity government led by Anwar Ibrahim.
Ahmad had said Umno members should look at DAP candidates in the upcoming state elections as representing the unity government rather than the party itself.
Isham then warned that support for the party would be eroded if it continued to demand that members support DAP candidates at the polls.