Umno annual assembly in end-March; motion to cut ties with Bersatu

PETALING JAYA • Umno will hold its twice-postponed 2020 annual general assembly on March 27 and 28 this year, party secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said yesterday.

"The 2020 annual general assembly will be a combination of physical and virtual meetings," he said in a statement as quoted by The Star daily.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan gave the assurance that all Covid-19 health protocols will be strictly complied with.

One key issue expected to be discussed at the closely watched annual meeting is a motion to cut ties with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia led by Prime Minister Muhyddin Yassin, while strengthening bonds with Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).

The annual meeting of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) was originally scheduled in early December last year but was dropped due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Another one planned for late last month was also postponed due to the surge in coronavirus cases.

Umno is a member of the 12-party Perikatan Nasional government, and an official split between Umno and Bersatu would have implications on how the two parties and PAS will face the next general election, which is expected to be held later this year.

Malaysia will start its corona-virus vaccinations today, two days earlier than planned, raising hopes that the country will be able to progressively remove restrictions on movements and socialising.

The states of Selangor, Johor and Penang, along with the Kuala Lumpur federal territories - the main contributors to Malaysia's economic output - are under an extended movement control order that was imposed in the middle of last month and which will last until March 4.

Umno's information chief Shahril Hamdan said on Jan 7 that the party's decision-making supreme council had decided to bring to the assembly a motion on severing ties with Bersatu and consolidating cooperation with PAS, The Star reported.

Mr Shahril said the decision was to enable the motion to be refined and decided at the highest level of the party.

The assembly is usually held at party headquarters in Putra World Trade Centre.

Most of Umno's 191 divisions also decided at their separate annual meetings last year to raise the issue of Malaysia's general election at the assembly, Mr Shahril had said last month. The divisions wanted its leadership to push the Muhyiddin administration to hold national polls before the end of the first quarter this year. It is not clear if this motion will still be raised at the annual meeting, which will be conducted at the end of the first quarter itself.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin has said he will call for the general election once the pandemic is over. Malaysia is currently under an "emergency" until Aug 1, unless an independent committee set up by the government decides to lift it earlier.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2021, with the headline 'Umno annual assembly in end-March; motion to cut ties with Bersatu'. Subscribe