Calls in Umno for Barisan Nasional to 'migrate' to Muafakat Nasional

A photo taken on Nov 13, 2019, shows Barisan Nasional’s supporters in Tanjung Piai in Johor. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

KUALA LUMPUR - The three wings of opposition party Umno has strongly endorsed the cooperation pact with the Islamist party PAS at their annual meeting on Thursday (Dec 5), with calls made for Umno and its allies to leave the Barisan Nasional and "migrate" to the so-called Muafakat Nasional.

The Muafakat Nasional (national consensus), signed between Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) in September, focuses on Malay-Muslim issues, which both parties believe have been cast aside by the governing Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.

The two mainly Malay-Muslim parties began cooperating informally early this year and this helped the Umno-led BN coalition to harness Malay voters and win four by-elections against the PH,

In the 2018 General Election that led to the ousting of BN from power, Umno and PAS garnered two-thirds of the Malay vote but PH won under Malaysia's first past the post electoral system with solid support from non-Malay voters and sufficient numbers of Malays who switched their allegiance from Umno and PAS.

Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdion on Thursday pushed for the three-party BN coalition to be set aside and make Muafakat Nasional a formal political institution to face elections.

"Umno Youth is urging the top leadership to urgently institutionalise Muafakat Nasional, which will include not just Umno and PAS, but also MCA, MIC and Friends of BN," Datuk Asyraf said in his speech at the Youth wing's meeting. The three wings of Umno refer to the Youth wing, the Women's wing and the Puteri (Young Women) wing.

"We should not sideline other races who have long been part of our beloved country," he added. "It is us, therefore, who must show and prove to the people that Umno, PAS, MCA and MIC are united as one."

He was referring to the other two members in BN currently - the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).

BN is also backed by several small political parties and non-governmental organisations grouped under Friends of BN.

Setting aside BN would be a radical move, whose member parties ruled Malaysia for 61 years from independence, while PAS was mostly in the opposition vying with Umno for the same Malay vote.

Umno, MCA and MIC were members of the Perikatan (Alliance Party) that ruled Malaysia between 1957 to 1973. Perikatan changed its name to BN in 1973 after pulling in other parties including PAS. But PAS left BN two years later.

Umno Women's chief Noraini Ahmad said non-Malays, who form some 40 per cent of Malaysia's 32 million population, would not be sidelined by the Umno-PAS pact .

"The Umno-PAS cooperation in Muafakat Nasional must be welcomed with open arms," Datuk Noraini said in a speech at the women wing's meeting. "It is a shift in the political scene for both parties but it will also benefit the component parties in BN."

Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan said the party has not decided on whether to formalise Muafakat Nasional as a political grouping.

A technical committee is looking on the way forward for the pact with a report only due in February next year, he told reporters on Thursday.

He said the other parties must also be consulted before Muafakat Nasional could be set up as a coalition.

"There is no such thing as Umno unilaterally making a decision to expand Muafakat Nasional and including other parties," he said. "Muafakat Nasional is merely an understanding between Umno and PAS, where we collectively agree on certain things, such as contesting an election or how to vote in Parliament."

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