Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan has defended the call for a general election to be held by the first quarter (Q1) of 2021, implying only those who were highly educated could understand the need for it.
Umno has come under harsh criticism for its proposal, especially as Covid-19 cases and deaths hit record highs. Floods have also hit many parts of the country.
Speaking at an event streamed on Umno Online’s Facebook page yesterday, Ahmad pointed out that many countries had managed to hold general elections amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
He then referred to a certain television interview featuring someone who worked as a coconut grater saying a general election should not be held due to the virus.
“We need a general election because this government has the smallest majority in the world. There are 222 parliament seats, and you need a minimum of 112 seats to become the government. The Malaysian government right now only has 112 seats, do you realise this?
“I think the coconut grater (who was interviewed for the programme) did not realise this. The person was interviewed as a voice from the grassroots, and I don’t know if they graduated from high school or not.
“If they were from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) or had a PhD, then I think they would have commented on the issue more accurately,” Ahmad remarked.
He did not specify which television programme he was referring to, admitting he was unsure if Astro Awani or TV3 had aired it.
Umno, Bersatu akin to PAS and Amanah
Umno is presently in open dissent with Bersatu, with a majority of its 189 divisions opposed to working with the Umno splinter party.
The party is set to hold its general assembly on Jan 31 to discuss three motions - to strengthen ties with PAS, cut ties with Bersatu for GE15 and lobby for GE15 to be held by the first quarter of the year depending on the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Asked during the dialogue about PAS’ position on the bad blood behind Umno and Bersatu, Ahmad said he was confident that the Islamist party would not abandon Umno.
He shared that Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had met with PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang recently.
“From our latest meeting with the president, we don’t see any signs that PAS will leave us. But PAS also wants to be with Bersatu.
“But we are very different. Umno and Bersatu are like PAS and Amanah. We are still fighting, and the wounds are still fresh [...]
“Nevertheless, what is more important is to maintain BN and PAS’ relationship until after GE15,” said the Pontian lawmaker.
PAS has since expressed hesitation over holding a general election anytime soon.
Bersatu was formed in 2016 by former Umno members Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Mukhriz Mahathir and Muhyiddin Yassin as an alternative to Umno for Malay voters in GE14.
Bersatu quit Pakatan Harapan last February and formed the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government with Umno, PAS, MCA, MIC, GPS and Star.
Despite having cabinet positions, Umno has been adamant against formally joining PN.
It has decided to focus on maintaining its Muafakat Nasional partnership with PAS.