Umno questions Anwar's call for talks on national issues

(From left) Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Najib, Muhyiddin, his wife Puan Seri Norainee Abdul Rahman, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Khairy Jamaluddin and Rosnah cutting a cake during the Hari Raya open house of Umno Youth, Women and Puteri at PWTC

KUALA LUMPUR - Umno has questioned the offer by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to engage with the Barisan Nasional Government on national issues.

The matter was one of several issues discussed at the Umno supreme council meeting yesterday.

Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the supreme council had made a collective decision on the offer but refused to give details.

"We will wait for the party president to announce the decision later," he said after the meeting yesterday.

The meeting was chaired by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who did not meet the press as he had to immediately rush for the national-level Hari Raya open house in Malacca.

Anwar, in his Merdeka message, has urged Najib to convene a roundtable discussion between Barisan and Pakatan Rakyat to solve various issues and come out with an unanimous solution.

The Opposition Leader said despite their earlier rejection of the 13th general election, Pakatan was ready to set aside differences with Barisan for the sake of the future and well-being of the country.

He, however, stressed that he was not proposing a unity government.

He said the engagement between two political rivals was needed as Malaysia had seen greater polarisation and increasing divisiveness on religious matters since its independence 56 years ago.

He said Merdeka Day should be celebrated by giving credit where it's due and mistakes of the past should not be repeated.

"The Merdeka spirit is not just about tolerance or compromise. It is about greater understanding, accepting our differences and our similarities as well as moving forward as a nation to face the challenges ahead."

Umno supreme council member Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, mean­­-while, said any offer to talk should be made formally in Parliament.

"This offer is a desperate act by Anwar because while we are always willing to reconcile after the elections, he has responded with continued attacks on the Government.

"Now that Pakatan has lost in many of its election petitions, he wants to talk. I don't think we can accept this," he said.

Puteri Umno chief Datuk Rosnah Rashid Shirlin questioned the timing and motive of Anwar's offer when Barisan had talked about national reconciliation immediately after the general election.

"What is his motive? If this is what he truly wants, then Parliament is the right platform to discuss the matter," she said.

Najib, his deputy Tan Sri Muhy­iddin Yassin and supreme council members had earlier attended the party wings' Hari Raya open house.