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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Umno infighting: Will BN lose Perlis

Umno infighting: Will BN lose Perlis
CLOSING RANKS- It will be a tragedy for Barisan Nasional if it were to lose Perlis because of infighting
BENEATH the smiles and the handshakes, it is an open secret that Perlis Umno leaders are still locking horns, despite the imminent general election.
The intense bickering among the leaders in the tiny state is reaching higher decibels these days, and there are no signs of abatement.
The problem, which has dragged on for too long, is certainly causing a major headache for top Barisan Nasional leaders.
In Perlis, the feuding camps have even taken their quarrels into cyberspace despite the relatively limited Internet access in the state.
"It does not matter that most people here do not have easy access to the Internet. The idea is to pass a message to the top party leaders in Putrajaya that all is not well in Perlis. Of course, this approach has backfired to a certain extent," said a concerned Perlis Umno veteran.
What is more worrying is that the Umno infighting is already being exploited by the opposition.
Pas deputy president Mohamed Sabu and his counterpart in Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Azmin Ali, often declare in their ceramah that they are merely repeating what has been revealed by Perlis Umno leaders themselves.
Perlis Pas commissioner and opposition leader Hashim Jasin once told the state assembly that he would not need to comment further, when debating a bill, as "others have a lot to say", implying Barisan Nasional backbenchers would do the job for him.
Hashim, who is Sanglang assemblyman, told Harakah Daily recently that former menteri besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim had admitted to him that Perlis Umno was now split into four factions.
In other words, Pas, which has two seats in the 15-seat assembly, could depend on Umno backbenchers to attack the state government and Perlis Umno leaders.
A classic example was the allegation in blogs that the doctorate Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Mohd Isa Sabu obtained in 2002 from an American university was not genuine.
The Umno disciplinary board has since summoned party members involved in the allegations. The case is still pending.
Isa has clarified that his PhD degree from Newport University in California is internationally recognised but not among those recognised by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.
The issue here is that the attempt to tarnish the image of Isa does not come from the opposition but from within his own party.
It is sad that the Facebook account of Isa continues to receive unsavoury comments from those within the Umno circle.
The Internet should have been an effective campaigning tool for Perlis Umno. Instead of using the Internet to attack the opposition, Umno leaders are using it to attack each other.
State Umno leaders such as Isa, Shahidan and Kangar member of parliament Datuk Radzi Sheikh Ahmad might have dismissed Pakatan Rakyat's chances of winning the state in the coming general election but Perlis voters, who are traditionally BN supporters, are getting impatient with the warring Umno leaders.
Pakatan, on the other hand, is confident of winning the Chinese votes.
Hashim, in the same interview with Harakah Daily, estimated that 70 to 80 per cent of the Chinese votes in Perlis could go to the opposition in the 13th general election.
The Indera Kayangan state seat, currently held by MCA's Dr Por Choo Chor, could slip from BN's grip if DAP fields a popular national leader.
In a nutshell, BN simply cannot continue to brag about Perlis having survived the 2008 political tsunami. Four years of bickering have shaken BN's foothold in the northernmost state.
As it is, opposition leaders believe Perlis Umno's infighting has alienated some voters and could have doubled 2008's 3.7 per cent vote swing to the opposition, allowing it to win at least one parliamentary seat this time around.
Perlis Umno members now want national leaders to step in to resolve the impasse. They are hoping Deputy Prime Minister and Umno Deputy President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's visit to Perlis early next month will result in some breakthroughs.
There must be genuine efforts by all Perlis Umno leaders to settle their disputes once and for all. Time is not on their side. They cannot sweep their long-standing problems under the carpet.
It will be a tragedy for BN if it were to lose Perlis because of the infighting. The state has three parliamentary and 15 state seats. And every seat counts for the BN.
There is no doubt that Shahidan, and other key Perlis Umno leaders such as Radzi, Padang Besar MP Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid and state executive council members such as Datuk Syed Razlan Jamalullail are working hard in their respective constituencies.
They still have to show to the 50,000 Perlis voters that they can work together as a BN team.
It is time they drop the attitude of "I take care of my area, you take care of yours" and heed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's call for unity.
The Malay saying, bersatu teguh, bercerai roboh, warning of the danger of division and disunity, is most apt in this case.
- New Straits Times

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