PETALING JAYA, Aug 17: As political parties prepare for a possible general election, old wounds from the shifting alliances of parties and politicians may be reopened, hampering the hopes of several leaders.
One of them is senior minister Mohamed Azmin Ali whose chances of defending his seat may be hindered by festering ill will among Gombak Umno grassroots members.
Azmin led nine MPs out of PKR earlier this year to support PPBM and the formation of the Perikatan Nasional government.
He has been MP for Gombak for three terms, and was re-elected in 2018 with a 48,721 majority against candidates from Umno and PAS.
Gombak Umno division leader Megat Zulkarnain Omardin said the 40,000 Umno members still remembered how Azmin had mocked Umno by making references to the party as an animal.
“This is not something that’s easy to forget. We can have different ideologies and views in politics, but there must be limits. A blow below the belt will often be remembered,” he said.
The support of Umno members may be crucial at the next general election.
After years of opposition to Umno and Barisan Nasional, Azmin and allies are expected to be formally announced as members of PPBM – which announced yesterday that it would enter the Muafakat Nasional alliance between Umno and PAS.
One of Azmin’s group, Segamat MP Santhara Kumar, a deputy minister in the Perikatan Nasional government, has already been accepted as an associate member of PPBM, the only non-Bumiputera MP to be so received.
With PPBM part of Muafakat Nasional, the views of Umno and PAS will affect Azmin’s chances of defending his seat. It may also affect his supporters’ chances of being chosen as election candidates.
The others are housing minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, MP for Ampang; Saifuddin Abdullah (Indera Mahkota); Kamarudin Ja’afar (Bandar Tun Razak); Mansor Othman (Nibong Tebal); Rashid Hasnon (Batu Pahat); Ali Biju (Saratok); Willie Mongin (Puncak Borneo); and Jonathan Yasin (Ranau).
Megat said Azmin had the right to request to be the coalition’s candidate in Gombak but the joint consent of Umno and PAS was needed, as founders of Muafakat Nasional.
“If he wants to contest, he has to get the consent of these two parties. We do not hinder but he also cannot block our views. We may have to take this matter up to the top leadership,” Megat said.
He said Azmin should make his own assessment of his support among Gombak voters following “his betrayal of his own party (PKR)”. Megat said PKR members in Gombak are unlikely to support Azmin again, not to mention PPBM supporters of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is setting up a new party.
“I think he (Azmin) can make his own arrangements,” said Megat. He said Umno and PAS have held extensive discussions about Gombak candidates and have also built up a strong national relationship through seven previous by-elections.
“We have not held any discussions with PPBM. Only with PAS,” he said.