Puad Zarkashi: Slow death awaits Umno if it stays with ‘dishonest’, back-stabber Perikatan
An election poster of Perikatan Nasional chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is seen in Pintasan, Kota Belud, Sabah, September 16, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — It is only a matter of time before Umno officially leaves Perikatan Nasional (PN), a party leader asserted, accusing its coalition partner of political dishonesty and betrayal such as during the Sabah state elections last September.

Umno supreme council member Datuk Mohd Puad Zarkashi told The Malaysian Insight that the decision to quit PN has been made by the majority of the party members, and indicated it was pending the annual general meeting — now scheduled to March 27-28 — to be made official.

“It is an open secret that Umno will leave PN when 118 out of 147 divisions have already decided.

“Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin should understand that the decision has already been made. It is just not official yet,” Puad was quoted saying.

He intimated that the Umno assembly next month will discuss the party’s future political partnership in preparation for GE15.

According to Puad, Umno grassroots members were unhappy that the PN-appointed village chiefs refused to cooperate with their local leaders.

He also intimated that Umno members were still upset at being allegedly played out by its PN coalition partners in the Sabah election, when Bersatu and several other local parties used independent candidates as proxies to contest against Umno’s candidates.

“We went in with good intentions after it was decided which seats each party would contest. But after the seat negotiations, they sponsored independent candidates and caused Umno to lose seats.

“This is a bitter experience that we will not allow to happen again. We want honest political partners, not those who would stab us in the back,” Puad was quoted saying.

In the Sabah elections, BN lost eight seats to its partners in the 17 seats it clashed in. Umno contested a total of 31 seats.

In the end, BN won 14 seats, compared to PN’s 17.

Puad also accused Bersatu president and Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin of making decisions without regard for Umno’s hierarchy. He gave as examples the selection of Umno MPs into the Muhyiddin Cabinet, the cancellation of the KL-Singapore high speed rail project and the request for the state of Emergency.

Puad also dismissed claims that Umno would be causing disunity among Malays by quitting PN.

“There is no point talking about Malay unity when you stabbed us in Sabah.

“This is just political rhetoric. If Bersatu is sincere about Malay unity, why did it partner Pakatan Harapan to cause Umno to lose power? There is no Malay unity if the parties are bent on undermining each other,” he told the news portal.

Puad said Umno would continue its cooperation with PAS, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and other Sabah parties after it officially ditches Bersatu.

He admitted there was opposition among some Umno supreme council on whether to cut ties with Bersatu for GE15 and named his party colleague and Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa as chief among the objectors.

Puad said that Annuar’s contention that Umno would “die” without Bersatu “did not make sense.”

“Umno did not disappear after it was declared illegal in 1988, and it did not ‘die’ after losing GE14.

“Just like PAS, Umno is a party that is rooted with members on the ground, but Umno is bound to die a slow death if it continues to be with PN, which is politically dishonest and would stab it in the back,” said Puad.

He said that Annuar had to go with the majority after more than half of the party’s 191 divisions wanted to break off ties with Bersatu.