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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Frenemies in ‘wounded tiger’ Umno pose Pakatan dilemma

Haris Ibrahim on whether to accept friendly Umno members without also taking in Trojan horses out to create havoc.
PH gained from Umno discontent, but which ones are genuine, asks activist Haris Ibrahim. (Youtube screengrab)
PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Harapan leaders were reminded today that Umno is a “wounded tiger” after the general election, and the coalition should be wary of people from Umno seeking to join PH parties, while being fair to genuine supporters.
Political activist and lawyer Haris Ibrahim, who once led the ‘Anything But Umno’ movement, said many from Umno who voted for PH at the election might be hurt if their membership applications were rejected
Yet Umno was only a “wounded tiger”, and no one should expect the party to go away.
“I won’t put it past them to send Trojan horses to destroy PH from within,” he said, calling for stringent screening of those who wanted to join PH. “If there are doubts about certain characters, don’t let them in.”
He said he could sympathise with PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Ismail for their willingness to take in Umno members who had quit the party and pledged to support the PH struggle and aspirations.
“The election results, say in Johor, seem to suggest that even Umno members voted for change. PH went to the voters, which included Umno members, asked them for their vote, and they got it. If you deny them entry into PH, they might feel hurt. It may be a bit unkind to flat out reject them,” he said.
“So I can see where Mahathir and Wan Azizah are coming from.”
At the same time, Haris said, there were legitimate concerns among those opposed to the idea.
Umno members have been urged by party leaders such as Bung Mokhtar Radin of Sabah and former Johor Menteri Besar Khaled Nordin to remain loyal.
Bung, who was re-elected in Kinabatangan, said PH parties were clearly trying to strengthen themselves with Umno members, but the party’s leadership had made it clear that any negotiations between PH and Umno must be done on an en bloc basis.
“Umno still has a future and a chance to return to glory, but we must change how we work and carry ourselves. We must work hard, be humble and don’t give up,” he told FMT.
Khaled said that Pakatan Harapan’s willingness to accept Umno members arose from knowing that their election success came from a wave of support which was not permanent.
Umno Supreme Council member Nazri Aziz told FMT that PH would only be able to sway some Umno leaders who did not truly believe in Umno’s struggles and only “wanted something”.
“I don’t believe PH can attract many grassroots members. Umno is more than a political party, it is a grassroots movement. In fact, the desire to see a change has led to grassroots members attending division meetings in large numbers again,” he said.
“In Padang Rengas (his parliamentary constituency, where he was re-elected), we are seeing more people attending meetings than before. Perhaps in the past, they felt it wasn’t necessary because Umno was strong, but now they are coming back.”
Nazri said he would remain loyal to Umno, even if the party was to be deregistered by the new government.
Before the general election, some 16 Umno members from five states had filed a suit questioning the legal standing of the party in view of the lack of party elections since 2013. -FMT

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