Amid Umno-PAS overtures, Kelantan stalwart Tok Pa quits party

Zurairi Ar
Mustapa said he believes that Umno should be an inclusive and moderate party that takes the middle ground. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — Former minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed has announced his resignation from Umno tonight, after more than four decades with the party.

The Jeli MP also known as Tok Pa said he believes that Umno should be an inclusive and moderate party that takes the middle ground, without sidelining other ethnic groups and religions.

Mustapa also insisted that for Umno to remain relevant, the party and former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) cannot rely solely on the support from the Malays and Bumiputeras.

“I believe this is the best way in a plural Malaysia,” the Kelantan-born veteran politician said in a statement.

“But to me, the current direction of Umno does not align with the political principles that I have held all this time, and there are not many assuring efforts that the rejuvenation of the party has started.

He said recent developments showed that the steps towards recovering the public’s trust deficit and fixing the party’s image have become much harder.

“There is no sign that the majority of the multi-cultural and multi-religious public will return their trust in the party’s struggle,” he added.

Mustapa thanked his contemporaries from Jeli, Kelantan, and the nation for their support, and pledged to continue giving his thoughts towards developing Malaysia into a respected country.

His decision today came amid plans by Umno to cooperate with Islamist party PAS, which has governed the east coast state of Kelantan for the last 28 years after toppling BN in 1990.

Prior to the May 9 polls, Mustapa reportedly said it was the best opportunity in almost three decades for BN  to wrestle back the state of Kelantan, and it would be a “major disappointment” if that did not happen.

Over the weekend, Umno leaders had attended PAS’ muktamar, or annual congress, in Terengganu — during which president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi expressed his hope for a new opposition coalition together with PAS.

Ever since Pakatan Harapan won Putrajaya in the 14th general election, both Umno and PAS have stepped up their attack on the federal government in issues involving Malay rights and Islam.

Mustapa had served as the minister of international trade and industry between 2009 and 2018.

In the last two general elections, Mustapa had defended his Jeli federal seat with razor thin margins, by 359 votes in 2018 and just 47 votes in 2013.

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