Umno to hold its closely watched annual assembly at end-March

One key issue expected to be discussed at the Umno meeting is a motion to cut ties with Bersatu. PHOTO: MEDIA UMNO

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 on Tuesday (Feb 23).

"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 (Bersatu) 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 at first scheduled in early December last year but was dropped due to Covid-19 restrictions. Another one planned for late January 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 will face the next general election, which is expected to be held later this year.

Malaysia will start its coronavirus vaccinations on Wednesday (Feb 24), two days earlier than planned, raising hopes that the country would be able to progressively remove restrictions on movements and socialising.

Selangor, Johor and Penang states along with the Kuala Lumpur federal territories - the main economic contributors to Malaysia's economic output - are under an extended Movement Control Order that was first imposed in mid-January and 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 had 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 in January.

The party's divisions wanted the Umno leadership to push the Muhyiddin administration to hold national polls before the end of the first quarter of this year. It isn't clear if this motion will still be raised at the annual meeting, which will be conducted at the end of the first quarter itself.

PM Muhyiddin has said that he will call for the general election once the pandemic is over. Malaysia is currently under an "emergency" until Aug 1.

A independent committee - comprising government and opposition lawmakers , and independent personalities - has been set up by the government to decide when to lift the emergency, that has suspended all Parliament sittings.

Separately, Umno is slated to hold its internal elections later this year, with the 191 divisions picking the party's president, deputy president, three vice-presidents and other office bearers.

The Umno polls are held every three years, with eyes on whether Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is facing a raft of corruption charges, will be challenged.

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