SEREMBAN - Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan has apologised if his proposal that Umno be allowed to contest all Malay-majority seats in the next general election had upset other Barisan Nasional component parties.
The Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar explained that his suggestion was purely aimed at strengthening the Barisan Government in the state.
"For the first time as Mentri Besar, I am prepared to apologise although I had no malice or ill intention when I openly made that proposal.
"As hard as it is, I am apologising for the sake of Barisan as I had no intention to offend anyone," he told reporters after meeting representatives from state component and Barisan-friendly parties here yesterday.
Mohamad said he had been misquoted by a vernacular newspaper and online news portals as saying that Negri Sembilan Umno did not need any help from its allies to form the state government.
"It's the most ridiculous and illogical thing to say. Perhaps they don't really understand as I spoke in the Negri dialect.
"Next time I will consider speaking in bahasa baku (standard Bahasa Melayu)," he said in jest.
Mohamad has come under criticism including from Barisan component parties for supposedly saying that Umno could go it alone to form the Negri government.
"Umno won 21 of the 36 state seats it contested in 2013. That is already enough for us to form the state government.
"What I said was that the component parties must work harder for our own survival and if we win few more seats, we can get a two thirds majority," he said.
Mohamad said he was also of the opinion that it would be better for Barisan to review its traditional seat sharing formula. He said if Umno stood a better chance of winning a seat, there was nothing wrong if its candidate was fielded.
In return, he said, the Barisan component party could always be offered the position of senator and this would even enable them to stand a better chance of being made a minister or deputy minister.
"The most important thing is for Barisan to win.
"We are going to face a very tough election the next time around and it will be pointless to use the old formula on seat allocation if it is not going to work," he said.
In the 2013 general election, Umno won 21 of the 22 seats for Barisan in the state. The other seat was won by the MIC.
The Opposition won the 14 other state seats.
Mohamad said he had never sidelined other races since assuming office in 2004 and the state Barisan component chiefs could vouch for that.