KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 — Umno will contest all three seats in the Pagoh constituency, its division chief Ismail Mohamed said.

He said the Umno division had in a recent Pagoh delegates’ meeting decided that the party will defend all three seats — Pagoh Parliamentary seat, and two state seats Bukit Kepong and Bukit Pasir.

“It was a unanimous decision made by the delegates, while respecting the state level decision that Umno will contest in 25 seats in Johor except Pagoh,” Ismail said in a report by Utusan Malaysia today.

While he stressed that the division respects decisions made at the state level, at the end of the day, Ismail said it boils down to what the Umno supreme council and grassroots say.

“What has been decided at the state level, we respect that, but no matter their views, even if they say the seat is to be given to Muhyiddin (prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) but if the grassroots don’t want to, we cannot do anything.

“All that has to be taken into account,” he said when asked about Umno’s plans in Pagoh for the 15th general election.

Ismail added that to date, the Umno grassroots in Pagoh do not want to work with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

“It is very clear as I have met with respective division chiefs who have rejected working with Bersatu.

“At the same time, I have also met representatives from the polling district centre and found that 80 per cent of them have rejected (working with Bersatu), and in the recent meeting, although there were no motions planned, they stood up to move an emergency motion for non-support of Bersatu.

“The emergency motion wasn’t planned, so I don’t have a choice because the grassroots don’t want Bersatu,” he said.

Ismail was the Pagoh Umno deputy division chief and took over as chief when Muhyiddin was sacked in 2016.

He also contested for the Pagoh parliamentary seat in the last general election, but lost in the three-cornered-contest to Muhyiddin, who had contested under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) ticket.

Meanwhile, Ismail also spoke about Muhyiddin losing non-Malay support in his own constituency, where he said the Chinese who support Muafakat Nasional (MN) did not render the same support for Bersatu.

“It was evident, when he went to visit the Chinese communities here, and not many Chinese turned up except those who organised the visits.

“I say this because in the 13th general election, his support in the Chinese-centric areas were bad, and that was when he was the number two in the government,” he said.

Muhyiddin, who was then deputy prime minister, was infamous for his remarks: “I am Malay first, I want to say that. But being Malay does not mean you are not a Malaysian”.

His remarks uttered in 2010, according to critics, were the reason why Muhyiddin lost non-Malay support, particularly among the Chinese communities in his constituency.

“So now, even if he is the prime minister, the Chinese don’t take this into account, because as what Liew Chin Tong (Johor DAP chief) said, and there is truth in what he said, that in GE14 there were 17 areas which Tan Sri (Muhyiddin) won big on Chinese votes simply because he had PH’s support,” Ismail added.