Umno needs to steel itself for the possibility that it could be deregistered, says party veterans.
They believe that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s remark that his own party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) can replace Umno and protect the Malays, is the clearest indication yet of what the future holds for the party.
Umno Veterans secretary-general Datuk Mustapha Yaakub said Dr Mahathir’s statement was a sign that Umno would be facing immense political pressure, including the possibility that the party could be disbanded.
“Umno has to react quickly from now on. They need to come up with plan such as setting up a new Umno party in case the current one is banned,” he told the New Straits Times.
Mustapha said Dr Mahathir’s speech could also spook Umno Members of Parliament into “crossing over” to PPBM.
This, he said, was because Dr Mahathir is aware that PPBM’s position in the Dewan Rakyat is less than impressive compared to their allies PKR and DAP.
“PPBM has only 13 seats; will it match up to the strength of PKR and DAP? He (Dr Mahathir) is worried, so that’s why he said PPBM could replace Umno to protect the Malays,” he said.
Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya political analyst, Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi, said Dr Mahathir’s assurance to the Malays that PPBM can be an effective party in influencing the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government if the party manages to increase its membership, can also be seen as a message that it was ready to take over Umno’s role in championing the Malays and Islam.
“Dr Mahathir’s statement is seen as a signal and indicator of the possibility that Umno will be banned for failing to comply with its own rules.
“PPBM has the advantage as they are now part of the government. That will make it easy for them to draw the Malays into supporting them,” he said.
Awang Azman said PPBM should maintain its integrity and image and not be involved in issues that could mar its leadership.
He also advised PPBM to champion the issue of the Malay language and also Malay privileges as enshrined in the Constitution.
“PPBM needs to avoid being seen as Muslim liberals as the majority of Malays, about 65 to 70 per cent are still not supporting PH,” he said. – NST