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Umno getting too close to PAS, becoming racist, say Sabah defectors

KUALA LUMPUR — The fear of Umno becoming too Islamic-centric and getting closer to PAS were the main reasons for the exodus of its Sabah members, sources said.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (left) and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang at a unity gathering in Pasir Salak last month. Umno under Zahid's leadership is moving closer to the Islamist party.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (left) and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang at a unity gathering in Pasir Salak last month. Umno under Zahid's leadership is moving closer to the Islamist party.

KUALA LUMPUR — The fear of Umno becoming too Islamic-centric and getting closer to PAS were the main reasons for the exodus of its Sabah members, sources said.

They said former Sabah Umno liaison chief Hajiji Mohd Noor, who led the exodus, was referring to the growing friendship between Umno and PAS when he said the Umno leadership lacked political direction.

Mr Hajiji said this on Wednesday (Dec 13) when he announced that nine assemblymen, four MPs, two senators, two Umno Supreme Council members, 21 division heads, Sabah Wanita, Sabah Puteri, as well as 12 Youth divisions were leaving the party.

They brought along with them more than 50 per cent of the 500,000 registered Sabah Umno members.

They were also spooked when at the recent anti-ICERD rally in Kuala Lumpur, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi declared that Umno and PAS could work together.

Mr Zahid said the Umno and PAS co-operation would hinge on Islamic issues. This was after PAS and Umno members gathered for the anti-ICERD rally.

“We will work together on other issues, too. This is not just a political co-operation, but a co-operation based on faith.

“I want Umno and PAS to work together after this,” the Umno president said.

These recent developments also upset Sabah Umno’s 100,000 non-Muslim members, the source said.

“They complained that Umno was becoming too racist,” the source added.

“A majority of the members here are not Malays. So does that mean we are second-class Umno members?”

Others who left said at an Umno retreat after the May 9 elections, the leaders drew up guidelines on the new direction the party will take, but nothing came of it.

“Nothing was implemented. It was all talk,” said another source.

The source added that they were also upset that despite repeated calls to Mr Zahid and the Supreme Council for autonomy, these were ignored.

“The Supreme Council was simply opposed to the request of giving more autonomy to the state party,” he said.

This simply meant Sabah Umno could not make decision for its own members, always having to rely on party leaders in the peninsula.

“They did not heed the growing calls of ‘Sabah for Sabahans’ and this is the outcome.”

Last night, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad confirmed that he met the Sabah Umno leaders last week prior to their departure from the party.

“Yes, they met me. They came to tell me they want to leave Umno,” the prime minister said at the launch of Proton-Geely’s first sports utility vehicle (SUV) X70.

The former Barisan Nasional members remain independent lawmakers and any decision to accept them would be made later, he said. THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

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