Umno’s hardline approach backfiring, say veteran politicians

K. Kabilan

MCA leader Ti Lian Ker says Umno must stop playing the race card. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, April 2, 2024.

UMNO is repelling non-Malay voters with its “hardline approach” and could even spell trouble for Pakatan Harapan in the next elections if the Malay nationalist party is not checked, veteran politicians said.

They said Umno leaders such as its Youth chief Akmal Saleh were an example of party leaders who were distasteful to non-Malay voters.

“Akmal’s hardline approach will chase away non-Malay voters who have had it up their necks over the many years of Umno bullying (BN). Any reminder of that will tarnish the unity government today,” said MCA leader Ti Lian Ker.

He said Umno has to “wake up from playing the race card”.

“The Malays have wisen up but you’re scaring away the Chinese and Indians, killing MCA and MIC effectively,” the senator told The Malaysian Insight.

He added Umno had sidelined BN after the general election last year, and the party was more keen to identify itself as a Malay protector in the current political landscape.

“BN is effectively dead. Umno is becoming extremist.

“As for Akmal, he is taking over the role (of agitator) from PAS. He is on the wrong track. He has lost the plot.

“He thinks Malays will consolidate if he targets the non-Malays but he is politically unimaginative. He is also using a tactic that is obsolete,” added the former MCA vice-president.

He was referring to The Malaysian Insight’s exclusive report yesterday that Umno will lose Pahang, long regarded as a “safe” state for the Malay nationalist party, to Perikatan Nasional if elections are held now, according to a Merdeka Center for Opinion Research survey.

Akmal meanwhile has been in the limelight for his boycott call against KK Mart after the “Allah” socks fiasco.

Analysts have said that Akmal was playing the race and religious card to win back the Malay support which had shifted to PN in the last general election. At present, PN parties PAS and Bersatu have almost full control of the northern Malay states.

They are also quickly closing in the voters in Pahang.

Urimai president P. Ramasamy says Umno leaders have lost their credibility. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, April 2, 2024.

Pahang survey ‘accurate’

Former DAP leader P. Ramasamy said Umno leaders were desperate and had lost their credibility.

“They are playing race politics to remain relevant but Malay voters can see a better alternative with the PN,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

He called Akmal a troublemaker and speculated that his attacks on KK Mart had a political agenda.

“He seems to have the support of his party leadership. The prime minister is also quiet on this issue. He could have nipped this in the bud and stopped this from turning into a major issue,” said the former academic.

He said voting trends are no longer in favour of the PH-BN coalition.

“The survey in Pahang seems to be accurate. Although PN has the majority of state seats, PH-BN have combined to administer the state. It is going to be downhill (from now) for Umno,” the former Penang deputy chief minister added.

His new party Urimai has stated that it will back PN in the coming Kuala Kubu Baru by-election in Selangor.

“The by-election will show how much Malay support Umno has lost. It is also risky for PH/DAP due to their relationship with Umno,” he said.

He said the Chinese community would also reconsider their support for PH/DAP if “DAP keeps quiet (while0 Umno is playing up race issues”.

Senator C. Sivaraj says Umno can keep Pahang because of the menteri besar is doing a good job. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, April 2, 2024.

Pahang situation ‘not too bad’

Former MIC youth chief C. Sivaraj, who is a senator, said Umno is not dead in Pahang.

He said Menteri Besar Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail is doing an excellent job in the state.

“I believe Umno can retain Pahang due to the excellent job the MB is doing in developing the state and looking after the welfare of its people, from daily living standards to education.

“The Malays in Pahang seem to hold him in high regard,” the former Cameron Highlands MP told The Malaysian Insight.

However, he said MIC and MCA were not doing well in garnering the support of their respective communities for BN.

He also warned that Pakatan Harapan may lose the Indian support if the unity government fails to deliver on the promises made to empower the Indian community since 2008.

“The prime minister and the unity government must prioritise the Indian agenda which could influence Indian voters if not resolved satisfactorily.”

As for the Chinese votes, he said the situation in Pahang was just like the rest of the country with the Chinese community likely to continue supporting PH. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, April 2, 2024. 

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