PETALING JAYA: Umno needs to get on board with backing DAP candidates in the upcoming state elections or run the risk of becoming the opposition, says an analyst.
Jeniri Amir, of the Council of Professors, said Umno’s leaders and members need to be pragmatic and realistic with their party’s position as a member of the unity government.
“There are no two ways about it. If you’re in the unity government then you will need to support whatever party (that) is part of the unity government.
“(If) they don’t support DAP, Perikatan Nasional wins, (then) who is going to lose? Do they (Umno) want to be in the opposition?” he said.
Jeniri was commenting on Umno Supreme Council member Isham Jalil’s warning that support for the party would erode if it continues to demand members to support DAP candidates in the state polls.
“There’s no need to praise DAP too much or else our supporters will be discouraged, and that will be a problem for us. So, stop telling our people to vote for DAP,” Isham said in a Facebook Live broadcast.
On May 19, Umno Supreme Council member Ahmad Maslan said party members should look at DAP candidates in the upcoming state elections as representing the unity government rather than the party itself.
However, last Thursday, he called for a stop to all the polemic surrounding his controversial statement and explained that Umno members would not have to vote for DAP as their logo was not on the ballot, as it was part of Pakatan Harapan (PH).
Jeniri said if Umno and DAP wanted to remain relevant then their members must support one another. “Who else can they support? They cannot be supporting Bersatu or PAS,” he told FMT.
Akademi Nusantara’s Azmi Hassan agreed with Isham, but stressed that Umno’s existence hinged on the unity government staying in power.
He said the matter must be handled delicately given the decades-long bad blood between Umno and DAP.
“If we want to persuade Umno members to vote for the unity government, they (Umno leaders) cannot say directly they (members) need to vote for DAP, no you cannot do that. It’s too direct,” he said, adding that it must be done “implicitly”.
“The only way is to explain (to them) the importance of the unity government, and that Umno relies on it for their existence politically,” he said.
Azmi added that Umno leaders should stress upon its members the importance of the unity government as it represents all walks of life from both the peninsula and the Borneo states.
“That’s the way to do it, not to praise DAP in order to persuade Umno members to vote for DAP, it will not work that way.”
The better strategy would be to show that Umno was willing to go against DAP in order to protect the interest of the Malays and Islam, he said.