KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 ― Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki today said the wing is ready to face any lawsuits from political ally Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia over claims that the latter was “stealing and buying” off its members.
Asyraf Wajdi said Bersatu should have accepted Umno Youth’s advice to stop any alleged efforts to buy or steal members from Umno to boost Bersatu’s own membership numbers.
“Honestly I was hoping that the answer would at least be, ‘We will investigate the allegation made by Umno Youth’, not THREATEN TO SUE,” he said in a statement posted on his Facebook page.
He reiterated his claim that there were allegedly “too many complaints” from Umno grassroots throughout Malaysia accusing Bersatu of buying and stealing members.
“Therefore if Bersatu information chief wishes to proceed with suing, we Umno Youth welcomes it and will take the opportunity in court later to reveal all the evidence before the judge in the future,” he said.
Earlier today, Bersatu information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan had in a Facebook statement said he firmly denied Asyraf Wajdi’s claims of membership poaching by Bersatu and asserted that the latter’s allegations were not backed by evidence.
Wan Saiful had demanded for Asyraf Wajdi to immediately apologise and retract that accusation, and also said he would be discussing with Bersatu over whether it would be appropriate to take legal action over this matter.
Just hours before Wan Saiful’s statement, Asyraf Wajdi had in a statement on his Facebook page today claimed that there were allegations among Umno grassroots of Bersatu purportedly encouraging the “stealing” and “buying” of Umno members, along with claims that each person who joins Bersatu is paid up to RM100 and that RM3,000 to RM5,000 was allegedly allocated for each Bersatu branch being set up.
Asyraf Wajdi went on to chide Bersatu’s leadership for allegedly defending the entry of Umno members into Bersatu on the basis of “openness” and the excuse that they were all under the common “roof of Perikatan Nasional”, saying that this would only worsen the ties of the two political allies.
While he did not specifically name the Bersatu leader who had allegedly defended those from Umno joining Bersatu, Asyraf Wajdi had attached excerpts of a news report featuring Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin reportedly making such remarks.
In his statement, Asyraf Wajdi went on to caution against drawing members away from Umno and said Umno-Bersatu ties were at stake, also noting: “The phenomenon of ‘stealing’ and ‘buying’ Umno members, if continued, will confirm all the perceptions and accusations all these while that the goal for PPBM’s establishment and the creation of the big grouping Perikatan Nasional is only to weaken and replace Umno.”
Local daily Berita Harian had reported Hamzah as saying on December 31 that Bersatu is targeting to have 8,000 branches nationwide within the next three months, with the party already having 600,000 members and continuing to accept applications for new party branches to be set up.
Hamzah was also then reported saying that Bersatu did not persuade Umno members to join the party but entry to the party was open to anyone, noting: “Up to each one. We are still one roof in the Perikatan Nasional government.”
Separately, national news outlet Bernama had reported Hamzah as saying that the plan to set up at least 8,000 more branches was intended to prove it is not a weak party, and that the party’s annual general assembly would have been held in August 2020 with the target to open branches to get one million members if not for the Covid-19 pandemic.