Isham Jalil: Grassroots support will dwindle if UMNO leaders continue to harp on cooperation with DAP

UMNO Supreme Council member Datuk Isham Jalil has warned that support for the party will be eroded if it continues to demand that members support DAP candidates in the upcoming state elections.

“Although the party is in the unity government with DAP, the heart of UMNO’s grassroots still needs to be preserved,” said the UMNO leader.

“We cannot lose our voter base. (If) we want to win new votes but lose our existing ones, we’re finished.”

Isham stated that there’s no need to praise DAP too much or else our supporters will be discouraged, and that will be a problem for UMNO.

Moreover, UMNO Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan stated last week that DAP candidates in upcoming state elections should be viewed as representing the unity government rather than the party itself.

Meanwhile, UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi chimed in to state he is aware that party members are still finding it difficult to accept DAP as an ally in the unity government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

However, the Bagan Datuk MP is willing to meet and explain the cooperation between UMNO and DAP to his party.

Furthermore, Isham pointed out that the six state elections will be crucial in determining the level of support the federal government enjoys.

“So, if this experiment fails, what will happen next? If we have a problem, the unity government will have a problem, too. The distribution of seats among parties in the unity government, especially between the Pakatan Harapan (PH) components and UMNO, will go a long way in proving their sincerity,” he added.

While Isham is of the opinion that DAP can win seats in its strongholds without the backing of UMNO voters, he is concerned about voter participation in Malay-majority seats that UMNO, PKR and Amanah typically target.

“When we used to be against PH in the past, voters who didn’t like PH voted for us. But now that we’re with PH, will Malay voters want to vote for us or not?”

The PH-led Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Penang, as well as the PAS-controlled Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, are set to hold state elections after June. — May 25, 2023


Main photo credit: Bernama

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