Umno is open to working with all parties, including Malaysia's opposition, to form the government in Perak state, party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said yesterday.
The announcement was made despite Umno ally Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) insisting that the opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition should not be allowed to return to power in the swing state.
These opposing viewpoints among Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's key partners in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) federal government further aggravate tensions in his already shaky administration.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia is said to have also dismissed working with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) or the Democratic Action Party (DAP), which are both part of PH.
Zahid, whose party had engineered the ouster of Bersatu deputy president Ahmad Faizal Azumu as Perak chief minister via a confidence vote last Friday, told reporters yesterday that Umno will try to keep the current PN pact.
"Everything is a possibility. We will try to keep the current coalition, but if the situation changes, we will try to make sure that it is suitable for the situation," he said after an audience with Perak ruler Sultan Nazrin Shah at Istana Kinta.
Last Friday, PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said PAS - which had backed Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal during the confidence vote - will not be involved in efforts to form a new Perak state government, but would still play its role in the state and at the national level.
On Saturday, the Islamist party's deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man called for PN to remain in control, adding that the state should not revert to PH rule.
However, he softened his stance yesterday, saying "PAS may compromise" to protect the partnership with fellow Malay Muslim parties Umno and Bersatu, but continued to reject the option of joining hands with PH.
There were also divergent views within Umno, which leads the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
BN secretary-general Annuar Musa said last Friday that Mr Ahmad Faizal's failure to win the confidence vote showed that Umno seemed to be working with the opposition to overthrow the PN government in Perak.
Zahid said yesterday it may be necessary to form a new political coalition with several adjustments to have a stronger state government.
"If a new coalition is needed to gain stronger support for the new state government, we are not ruling out any possibilities," he said.
Mr Ahmad Faizal had just 10 backers in the confidence test, with all 24 opposition lawmakers from PH voting against him, as well as 24 Umno assemblymen who were meant to be Bersatu's allies in the state.
Mr Ahmad Faizal's resignation has been assented to by the Sultan, paving the way for a new appointment. Zahid said several names will be nominated "as soon as possible".
Responding to Zahid's statement, Perak DAP chairman Nga Kor Ming said his party, which has 16 assemblymen, was willing to work with its long-time political nemesis Umno, echoing the stance of its PH allies PKR and Parti Amanah Negara.
"In the best interests of the people, Perak DAP is ready to work with any party that can help form a multiracial, strong and stable government. I am open for any constructive discussion. We are ready," said Mr Nga.
DAP assemblyman Leow Thye Yih, however, said yesterday that he would never support an Umno candidate as chief minister.