Najib likely to push for Malay unity at Umno assembly

He is expected to call for party to unite in move to woo opposition PAS

A worker pasting an Umno logo on a van's window during preparations ahead of the Umno assemblyin Kuala Lumpur. Reaching out to PAS would help Umno reaffirm its mandate as the party for Malay Muslims, say analysts. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

AFTER leading Umno to a stronger showing in the May elections and keeping his allies in power at party polls, Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to use this week's general assembly to call for the party to close ranks.

They will need to do so to tackle the next order of business: wooing the opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) in so-called Malay unity talks, a touchy subject.

With non-Malay voters largely abandoning the Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition, party conservatives feel that Umno should focus on corralling the Malay vote.

"The right wing of Umno wants to push for a stronger Malay coalition. So if the party feels it can work with PAS to achieve this, why not?" said Professor Faisal Hazis of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.

Background story

Malaysia's Parliament 222 seats

PAS MPs 21

PKR MPs 30

DAP MPs 38

A PAS defection would cripple the opposition alliance and hand Barisan Nasional back its two-thirds parliamentary majority.