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KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 — A union with Umno is the best way to work towards the 15th general election (GE15) for Pakatan Harapan (PH), former minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said.
Similar to the GE14 success PH achieved, where it worked with a Malay leader of influence to bring them across the line, Zaid said the best available option is Umno.
“The Anwar-DAP (Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) pact needs to work closely with another set of Malay leaders with influence. The best available for them is to work with Umno.
“Umno has leaders with the ability to influence Malay voters and together, a PKR-Umno pact will bring in the largest number of seats since the good old days of Barisan Nasional (BN) dominance,” he said in a Facebook post.
He however said the main hindrance to successfully implementing this simple plan may come from factions within PKR and Umno.
From Anwar’s camp, he said there will be voices objecting to the plan because they do not see Umno as a progressive force that will bring reforms to the institutions and fight corruption, citing cases of Umno leaders before the courts.
“Anwar as a leader must make this call. It will be the definitive moment of his career.
“Umno has to be the working partner for PKR. Tell the cynics that almost all leaders from all the parties in this country have taken some pecuniary advantage from their political positions,” the former law minister said.
In addition, Zaid urged PH and Umno to not fight one another on the basis of what happened in the past.
“Abandon the arrogance that one is cleaner or more honourable than the other.
“A ‘holier than thou’ attitude will not bring political stability. It will prevent good leaders from taking power, for they are in the best position to change the country,” he added.
How can this be done?
For a start, Zaid said PKR and Umno should agree on crucial institutional reforms such as the police oversight commission, changes to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and to have greater scrutiny over the appointment of key positions like the attorney general, Bank Negara governor and Dewan Rakyat speaker.
“Umno leaders will agree to these reforms because they have, for the first time in their history, been subject to unfair treatment from those in power.
“They, like Anwar, will want changes so that the practice of using political power to annihilate opponents will come to an end,” he said.
“We need a policy that empowers the people, not their identity.
“An Umno-PKR alliance will be the first step in this direction,” he said.
For those in Umno who are already supporting the Bersatu-PAS alliance, Zaid said to let them carry on.
However he also noted that there are many Umno leaders who are pragmatists.
“They are secured because Umno’s brand as the defender of bumiputera rights cannot be disputed.
“No right-thinking Malay will accuse them of treachery if they embark on reforms relevant to the needs of the country,” he said.
At the same time, he said, Umno needs allies not only to secure a significant workable majority, but also because it knows that the country has to be run and managed by competent leaders of different nationalities and outlook.
“It is time for leaders to be practical and cease indulging in hyperbole and fantasy.
“Those who wish to see real reforms must be willing to work with Malay political groupings of influence. Otherwise, reforms will fail again.
“Umno, too, must stop believing in its own propaganda that Anwar and DAP are enemies of the people. The ghosts of the past must be laid to rest — and only then can new dreams take hold,” he said.