KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia today rejected claims that it is poaching and buying off members from fellow ruling party Umno to join its ranks, insisting that its Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki must apologise over such allegations.
In a statement today, Bersatu information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan said he firmly denies the “wild accusation” by Asyraf Wajdi of Bersatu’s purported stealing and buying of Umno members, asserting that such a claim is not backed by evidence.
“His actions in stating that ‘each who join Bersatu are paid up to RM100, each branch that is set up is allocated RM3,000 to RM5,000’ cannot be accepted at all,” Wan Saiful said in the statement posted on his Facebook page.
“I demand Asyraf apologise and retract that accusation immediately.
“I will also discuss with the party regarding the appropriateness of taking legal action in this matter,” he added.
What Asyraf Wajdi said
Just hours before Wan Saiful’s statement, Asyraf Wajdi had in a statement on his Facebook page today suggested that there have been talks of Bersatu’s alleged poaching of Umno members to boost Bersatu’s own numbers.
Asyraf Wajdi claimed that there have been many complaints and much anxiety among Umno grassroots members and leaders nationwide about the allegations of Bersatu purportedly encouraging the “stealing” and “buying” of Umno members, along with claims that each person who joins Bersatu is paid up to RM100.
Asyraf Wajdi went on to chide Bersatu’s leadership for allegedly defending the entry of Umno members into Bersatu on the basis of “openness” and the excuse that they were all under the common “roof of Perikatan Nasional”, saying that this would only worsen the ties of the two political allies.
While he did not specifically name the Bersatu leader who had allegedly defended those from Umno joining Bersatu, Asyraf Wajdi had attached excerpts of a news report featuring Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin reportedly making such remarks.
In his statement, Asyraf Wajdi went on to caution against drawing members away from Umno: “The phenomenon of ‘stealing’ and ‘buying’ Umno members, if continued, will confirm all the perceptions and accusations all these while that the goal for Bersatu’s establishment and the creation of the big grouping Perikatan Nasional is only to weaken and replace Umno.”
He went on to cite the lessons that should be learned from how the previous Umno-PAS cooperation under the Barisan Nasional coalition had crumbled decades ago due to membership disputes, following the increasingly severe competition for members throughout 1974 to 1977, which resulted in the two biggest Malay parties being separated and locked in a feud for decades.
Umno is now allied with PAS and Bersatu as well as other parties in the Perikatan Nasional coalition, with Asyraf Wajdi indicating that it would be better for Bersatu to use party funds to combine forces with Umno and PAS to help the public together in grassroots activities instead of using those financial allocations to set up new branches.
The three parties share similar membership bases of mostly Malay or Muslim members.
Highlighting that almost all of Bersatu MPs including those who had previously hopped over from Umno are now holding the positions of minister and deputy minister, he said the focus should instead be on consolidating resources to help the public who are in difficulties and worrying about sustaining their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“With this, Umno Youth holds the view and demands for an immediate stop to any efforts to compete to steal and buy members among each other if there is still the desire to see the cooperation between Umno and Bersatu in the Perikatan Nasional government now to be saved,” he said.
Local daily Berita Harian had reported Hamzah as saying on December 31 that Bersatu is targeting to have 8,000 branches nationwide within the next three months, with the party already having 600,000 members and continuing to accept applications for new party branches to be set up.
Hamzah was also then reported saying that Bersatu did not persuade Umno members to join the party but entry to the party was open to anyone, noting: “Up to each one. We are still one roof in the Perikatan Nasional government.”
Separately, national news outlet Bernama had reported Hamzah as saying that the plan to set up at least 8,000 more branches was intended to prove it is not a weak party, and that the party’s annual general assembly would have been held in August 2020 with the target to open branches to get one million members if not for the Covid-19 pandemic.