Umno chiefs welcome olive branch to opposition

Umno is trying to broaden its ruling coalition by Hadi Zaher @flickr

Umno President Najib Razak’s willingness to work with his PAS opponents is being seen as an important move towards national unity.

Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid said the prime minister’s move was positive for the party, and the invitation was now with PAS to respond.

“He has shown the way for consolidation because for us, unity is the best for the party, and when facing the general election, it is a priority,” he said. 

Najib, in his policy speech at the 2015 Umno General Assembly, said Umno wanted talks with PAS to improve the country, after PAS was expelled from the opposition bloc. 

However, vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein said there had not yet been any official meeting between the party leaderships, although he did not rule out lower-level meetings. 

Hishammuddin told the media that Umno’s main priority remained healing internal rifts. 

“What’s important for Umno is to take care of itself… we have to ensure that Umno is strong… that the leaders are united and the members are not fighting each other,” said Hishammuddin, who is also defence minister.

He said the Umno delegates had made their interest in party unity clear at the general assembly. 

“We have to have a limit in politics and matters that touch on national security, Islam and the status of the Malays… I think it is high time for us to set aside political considerations for the sake of the bigger agenda,” he said.

Hishammuddin said Umno’s recent upheaval had been a constructive move towards political maturity which members should welcome.