BN man dismisses proxy war within Umno’s ranks, says battle is with Perikatan in Melaka

·4-min read
Barisan Nasional’s communication adviser Isham Jalil speaks to Malay Mail in Kampung Sialang, Asahan, November 15, 2021. — Picture by Ben Tan
Barisan Nasional’s communication adviser Isham Jalil speaks to Malay Mail in Kampung Sialang, Asahan, November 15, 2021. — Picture by Ben Tan

MELAKA, Nov 17 — The Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has refuted the widely-held notion that the Melaka state election is a proxy war between different leaders within its ranks, especially those from Umno.

With several Umno leaders reportedly disagreeing with the party’s top leadership in the past, many believe that the November 20 polls is a culmination of the different factions warring within the Malay nationalist party that is the linchpin of BN.

Among the alleged main factions within Umno are those aligned with party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is also the party’s vice-president.

BN communication adviser Isham Jalil said the perception of a clash between factions and a proxy war was unfounded as Umno was in fact united when it came to the Melaka state election.

“I personally don’t see that happening. In fact, I saw Ismail Sabri in Melaka twice yesterday and I also held discussions with his officers.

“So, it is obvious that Ismail Sabri himself wants BN to win and I assure everyone he is with us.

“Of course, we understand that, as the prime minister, he also has his limitations and can’t be seen as campaigning too aggressive as this might lead to issues on the national level at a later date,” said Isham when met by Malay Mail at a food stall in Kampung Sialang in the Asahan state constituency here recently.

Battle lines drawn

Commenting further on the alleged proxy war between his party’s leaders, Isham pointed out that for the Melaka state election, it was more of a clash between Umno and Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“This is what is actually happening,” he said, in tacit reference to the recent trading of barbs between Muhyiddin and Umno veteran Tan Sri Shahrir Samad as well as other party leaders.

Isham also revealed that there were Umno members and leaders who supported Muhyiddin, and to a greater extent, the PN coalition.

He added that such support was based on personal beliefs.

“I don’t deny that there are definite differences with some Umno leaders who are keen to see the party cooperate with Muhyiddin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

“There aren’t many of them and I can name a few, such as Tan Sri Annuar Musa and Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim.

“They want us to be with Bersatu. Unfortunately, for them, Umno’s grassroots and a majority in the party disagree,” said Isham.

BN’s chances in Melaka

Isham, who is also the Selangor BN information chief, said based on the current momentum, the coalition stands a good chance of winning Melaka.

“The possibility is there for us to win by a convincing majority. But, of course, we don’t want to be overconfident.

“For now, BN as a coalition will contest without the support of any external parties as we are confident of a strong win.

“Currently, BN has no plans to accept any other political parties into our coalition. We have made the decision to go solo and fight solo. That is our position for now,” he said.

If BN leads Melaka

However, Isham added that if BN does win, the coalition will open the door to other coalitions, or even individual parties to join hands with them.

“It is entirely up to Pakatan Harapan (PH), PN or any individual parties for that matter if they want to be with us. There is no persuasion to this, but we do not want to necessarily\ govern Melaka alone,” he said.

Last Thursday, it was reported that BN deputy chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan had said the coalition is open to accepting other parties to be part of the Melaka government if it wins the upcoming state election.

However, the Melaka BN election director cautioned that there must be a core party capable of forming the state government on its own so that it will not be held to ransom should other parties threaten to quit the alliance, which could cause the state government to collapse.

With that, Isham stressed that Melaka needed an Opposition as a check and balance.

“If every party were to be on the ruling side, there would be no Opposition, and this would not be democratic.

“BN welcomes the Opposition to hold the ruling government accountable should it come into power.

“What we don’t want is a minority government or razor-thin majority as this will lead to instability,” he said.

The Umno-led BN coalition is standing in all 28 state constituencies, with 24 new faces.

Umno is contesting the lion’s share of 20 seats, while MCA, a BN component party, is fielding seven candidates. Another component party, MIC, is contesting one seat.

Melaka goes to the polls on November 20.

The Melaka legislative assembly has 28 seats, while the electoral roll contains 495,196 voters.

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