KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Umno leaders have poured cold water that the party will lose as much as 50 per cent of its supporters to the Opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) in the upcoming elections in six states.
Umno supreme council member Datuk Mohd Puad Zarkashi said such claims from former party mate Khairy Jamaluddin were premised on outdated views and the PN playbook painting the DAP — a current political ally — as the enemy, news portal Malaysiakini reported today.
“Khairy’s claim that 50 per cent of Umno voters will give their votes to PN is just an assumption.
“His reasoning is that Umno members have been indoctrinated to be anti-DAP for a long time and will reject Umno supreme council member Ahmad Maslan’s call to vote for DAP,” he was quoted as saying.
Puad said Khairy’s assumption is not strong as political enmities do not last.
He pointed out that PAS used to be friendly with DAP, but they have not heard that half of PAS voters have left the Islamist party.
“Umno members have become accustomed to the changing political approaches. Not to mention Umno does not practise narrow politics, that is why there were no large-scale protests when the supreme council decided to join the unity government,” Puad was quoted as saying.
The Johor state legislative assembly Speaker and Rengit assemblyman was responding to Khairy’s prediction that Umno would lose half of their Malay voter base in the coming state election, if they do not get rid of its members’ bad perception of DAP.
Khairy, the former Rembau MP, claimed last Monday that Ahmad Zahid’s call for Umno members to “vote for DAP” had incited anger and rejection among the Malay party members.
Mohd Puad added that Umno’s inclusion in the Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim–led federal government means Umno members have accepted DAP as a part of the fellow ruling party.
He added that this will naturally include voting for the DAP in the state polls.
Umno Veterans’ Club secretary-general Mustapha Yaakub was also dismissive of Khairy’s political prediction, likening it to as trustworthy as the weather forecast.
He said listening to the comments of those who were sacked from Umno was like listening to the weather forecast about thunderstorms and heavy rain, which is not certain to happen.
“Even if it happens, it is just strong winds and scattered rain,” he was quoted as saying.
Alor Setar Umno division vice-chief Syed Mohd Johan Rizal Syed Unan Mashri said Khairy’s prediction might not be “wrong” considering it was the first time the Malay nationalist party was working with the DAP, but added that it was premature.
“On Umno possibly losing 50 per cent of its Malay voter base, I think it is still too early for us to say that Khairy’s prediction will be accurate,” he was quoted as saying.
Syed Mohd Johan added that Umno needs to convince its members and voters about their participation with other parties in the unity government.
Khairy was sacked from Umno in January after openly challenging Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as its president.
The former Rembau MP who was shifted to stand as an Umno parliamentary candidate in Sungai Buloh, Selangor branded his former party as a “political beggar”, with its future in doubt after losing the support of the Malays.