PETALING JAYA, Dec 5 — Umno’s 71st annual general assembly which begins on Thursday is expected see party members thrashing the federal Opposition, particularly Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is “willing to be used” to bring down a Malay leadership government.
The assembly will also see Umno prepare mentally for the “death battle” in the coming general elections that will determine the future of the nation.
The Malay-based party is not just the backbone of the Barisan Nasional (BN) but it is also the flag-bearer of the ruling coalition. If the party falls, the whole of BN goes down and the country will see a new era.
The party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also prime minister, is expected to stress on the importance of Umno members over-performing in the general election given the fact that other BN coalition parties are not as strong as they used to be in the1980s and 1990s, except for Parti Pesaka Bersatu Sarawak (PPB) which maintains its hold in the Borneo state.
The delegates will then pass it on to the three million-odd Umno members the importance to remain united and fight hard as the coming general elections will be the mother of all electoral battles that will determine the future of the Malays and Islam.
The president wants every Umno member to possess the winning spirit as the party is considered the last pillar standing, that if it shakes a little, the whole political war may see a different ending.
Najib himself is the federal Opposition’s main target and with Umno, he now faces the toughest challenge since the party’s formation as the party is considered to be “alone” in facing off against the DAP, PKR, Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Parti Warisan Sabah in Sabah.
The federal Opposition, particularly DAP has succeeded in making MCA and Gerakan “redundant” and MIC split with the ethnic Indian community still searching for “leaders” and with other smaller component parties irrelevant in the mainstream political scene.
The federal Opposition has never been of one mind but their strategies used since before the 2008 general elections have eroded the public’s trust in government institutions particularly Malay institutions and chipped at Umno and BN support in several areas considered as their bastions.
With the rest down, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal Opposition pact has targeted Najib — the only leader standing to fight them — and if he buckles, then Umno is weakened.
With their new “hero” in former prime minister Dr Mahathir, PH is expected to increase its onslaught against Najib in the next few months until the general elections, which must be called by August 2018.
Najib needs the full support of the party and he is expected to impress on party delegates and members that this is the biggest battle since Independence.
Najib’s clarion call on Thursday is expected to draw crystal clear battle lines for Umno and BN against the federal Opposition parties.
One pertinent issue that the federal Opposition will watch closely at the assembly is whether or not Najib will make any mention of Umno’s and PAS’s relationship which will determine the Islamist party’s stand in the general elections.
Najib is not expected to mention PAS, a party that has cut its ties with the mainly Chinese DAP and Amanah and is not interested in having anything to do with PPBM.
PAS too has not made any comment on its relationship with Umno yet the other federal Opposition parties are eagerly waiting to know its rival Opposition Islamist party’s stand.