Brewing internal turmoil within Umno, unless handled properly, may derail the party’s ability to deliver the Malay votes to the unity govt in the coming six state elections.
A major discontent comes from Umno supporters of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who felt that the party leadership has not done enough to secure the former Umno president’s release from jail via a royal pardon.
Umno Youth permanent chairman Wan Agyl Wan Hassan said party members noticed the lack of support among top leaders towards Najib in the recent party general assembly last month.
“It could have been due to Umno’s current position in the unity government, whereby aligning with a leader involved with a corruption scandal can be costly in terms of politics and public perception.
“This situation creates various perceptions among Najib supporters who wanted clear action instead of words,” said Wan Agyl.
Wan Agyl also conceded that the party’s top leadership was aware of discontent among Umno members during the general assembly.
“Therefore, the speech by Najib’s eldest son (Datuk) Nizar was the best solution to calm Umno supporters down.
“But, it is hard to predict how effective this was,” said Wan Agyl.
During the Umno general assembly last month, Nizar played a short video clip of Najib, and gave a speech saying that his father wanted Umno members to remain loyal to the party and president.
Meanwhile, Wan Agyl argued Najib’s influence on Umno can be seen in the contrasting results of the Johor and Melaka state polls and the 15th General Election.
“Support for Najib was seen to be stronger than support towards Umno. This is seen through the Johor and Melaka state polls results, when Najib was campaigning for the party and in GE15, after Najib was imprisoned,” said Wan Agyl.
“That is why he is seen as an unpredictable factor that could influence political dynamics,” added Wan Agyl.
Despite drowning in court cases, Wan Agyl said Najib is still enjoying rising support, even with Bersatu and PAS leaders, who recently called for the former premier to be pardoned.
“They also claim that Najib was a victim of injustice and they are supporting a pardon for him,” added Wan Agyl.
Wan Agyl said the top leadership should take into account the risk of Najib supporters boycotting the state polls.
“I’m confident that Najib supporters will not resort to a boycott. But, this matter should be handled tactfully,” added Wan Agyl.
Federal Territories Umno Youth chief Datuk Aliff Firdaus said the Umno general assembly last month had spoken extensively on various issues such as urban poverty, youth economy and among others
“But, Najib remains (a pertinent) issue in the Umno general assembly because the struggle for justice is being carried by Umno grassroots leaders themselves,” added Aliff.
Aliff also played down murmurs of party members boycotting the state polls, as he was confident that Umno’s top leaders are currently fighting for justice in Najib’s case.
“In fact, Najib himself does not want Umno members to shield him,” said Aliff.
Aliff said Umno members were rational when it comes to seeking justice for Najib and the upcoming state elections.
“Because, the most important issue is the party itself,” said Aliff.
“To me, the (boycott) factor is the game played by our political opponents to weaken the spirits of Umno members,” added Aliff.
The six states – Selangor, Penang, Negri Sembilan, Terengganu, Kelantan and Kedah – will be having elections on Aug 12.
Najib is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence at the Kajang prison after his conviction was upheld by the Federal Court on Aug 23 last year.
In April, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Najib’s pardon request was not discussed during the Pardons Board meeting at the time.
Najib supporters want more done for him, says daughter
Supporters of Datuk Seri Najib Razak are still backing Umno and the unity government, says his daughter Nooryana Najwa.
However, she said Najib’s supporters wanted more concrete efforts by the government towards upholding justice for the former premier.
She also claimed that many Najib supporters, who form the majority of Barisan Nasional members, were growing increasingly impatient.
“In fact, it is not easy to persuade them anymore,” she said.
Nooryana said many Najib supporters were unhappy as the former premier continued to be burdened by new cases and disputes.
According to her, among the new cases are the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) case, where there is a dispute involving RM1.7bil in outstanding taxes and penalties, the RM114mil seized from a condominium in 2018, and several civil suits linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
“All of this is putting pressure on my father who is currently being incarcerated,” she said yesterday.
Her statement came following Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s remarks on Thursday urging Najib’s supporters to back the unity government in the coming state polls.
Ahmad Zahid said Najib had declared support for the current administration and there was no reason why his supporters should not support the government.
“Najib conveyed through his children that support must be given to the government,” he told reporters.
Ahmad Zahid also said it was important to separate legal issues with the upcoming six state polls, adding that there should be no reason for people to think that there were no efforts to seek justice for Najib.
The former prime minister was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210mil for misappropriating RM42mil of SRC International funds connected to 1MDB.
The six state polls in Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Penang will take place on Aug 12.
Penyokong Najib mungkin tidak keluar mengundi pada PRN – Nazifuddin
Selepas Nooryana Najwa mendakwa penyokong bapanya, Datuk Seri Najib Razak seolah-olah sudah hilang sabar, kini anak lelaki bekas Perdana Menteri itu pula menyuarakan kebimbangan sama.
Menurut Ketua UMNO Bahagian Langkawi, Datuk Mohd. Nazifuddin, semakin ramai penyokong bekas Presiden UMNO itu kecewa dengan parti itu selepas melihat tidak ada sebarang keadilan buat Najib.
Jika keadaan itu berterusan, Mohd. Nazifuddin menjangkakan penyokong-penyokong bapanya mungkin tidak keluar mengundi pada Pilihan Raya Negeri (PRN), Ogos depan.
“Ianya juga sudah semakin sukar untuk saya menyakinkan mereka seperti diulas oleh adik saya Yana dan dalam ulasan Khairy
Jamaluddin dengan Shahril Hamdan minggu lepas,” katanya dalam satu kenyataan pada Isnin.
Beliau juga tidak menolak kemungkinan penyokong Najib akan beralih arah dengan memberi undi kepada pihak lawan pada pilihan raya nanti.
Ini sekali gus ujarnya, memberi kesan signifikan dari segi sokongan orang Melayu terhadap UMNO dan Barisan Nasional (BN).
“Ramai juga faham bahawa sokongan umum dan sokongan akar umbi terhadap DSN (Najib) adalah besar dan mungkin melebihi sokongan parti,” ujarnya.
Dalam pada itu, Mohd. Nazifuddin percaya Presiden UMNO, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi sedar kemungkinan yang akan berlaku,menyebabkan Ahli Parlimen Bagan Datuk itu meminta penyokong Najib untuk terus percaya kepada parti dan menyokong Kerajaan Perpaduan.
Selaku veteran politik, beliau berkata Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim juga sedar perkara tersebut dan kemungkinan beliau dan Ahmad Zahid ada perancangan untuk mengatasi isu berkenaan.
“Inilah sebab ada beberapa pemimpin-pemimpin pihak lawan kami daripada parti Bersatu dan Pas turut menyuarakan sokongan mereka kebelakangan ini bagi pembebasan Najib. (Sokongan ini) Dengan harapan bahawa penyokong-penyokong Najib akan memberi undi kepada mereka,” katanya.
Nooryana sebelum ini dilapor berkata, ramai penyokong Najib seolah-olah sudah hilang sabar, selain mereka juga tidak mudah dipujuk lagi.
Khairy dan Shahril dalam siaran podcast Keluar Sekejap pada Jumaat lalu berpandangan keputusan MCA dan MIC untuk tidak bertanding dalam PRN disifatkan sebagai permulaan kepada tamatnya hayat BN.
Sementara, Ahmad Zahid yang juga Pengerusi BN menyeru penyokong Najib agar mengundi calon BN-PH dalam PRN akan datang, kerana ia sebagai satu usaha menyokong bekas Perdana Menteri itu termasuk mendapat keadilan.