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Bersatu must bow to Umno for Perikatan to survive, say analysts

KUALA LUMPUR — Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) days are numbered unless Bersatu gives in to United Malays National Organisation (Umno)’s demands, say analysts.

Party insiders also said Umno is reluctant to work with Bersatu when it comes to seat negotiations.

Party insiders also said Umno is reluctant to work with Bersatu when it comes to seat negotiations.

KUALA LUMPUR — Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) days are numbered unless Bersatu gives in to United Malays National Organisation (Umno)’s demands, say analysts.

Political scientists believe Umno’s move to formalise ties in Muafakat Nasional (MN) was to lock Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) in a cooperation with the party instead of PN, if things go south with the ruling coalition.

Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Awang Pawi said Umno is pushing to form a pact with PAS for the next general election.

“This is a move to ensure PAS is together with Umno in MN. They are confident if both parties combine, Umno will win in the next elections,” he said.

Umno’s Mr Annuar Musa and PAS’ Mr Takiyuddin Hassan recently announced MN will be registered with the Registrar of Societies (RoS) soon.

The statement did not say if Bersatu is part of the arrangement. The party was earlier invited to join the charter.

Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun said Bersatu and Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin should counter Umno’s move by offering the party an olive branch.

“It would appear that Umno is forcing Bersatu’s hand. Umno is shopping between Anwar and Muhyiddin, while PAS is shopping between Umno and Muhyiddin,” he said.

He was referring to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who claimed he has numbers to form government and met the Malaysian king last week.

Mr Oh added that Mr Muhyiddin can either give in to Umno’s demands of more relevant cabinet positions, or try to break the party up.

“Muhyiddin can do one of two things. Offer better goodies to PAS and Umno in terms of cabinet posts and positions.

“Or divide and conquer. Between Umno itself, there are various factions. Play with it,” Oh said.

Party insiders also said Umno is reluctant to work with Bersatu when it comes to seat negotiations.

“We would not want to give the seats that they won with Umno over to Bersatu,” a source said.

Among the parliamentary contested seats are Mr Mustapa Mohamad’s Jeli and Mr Hamzah Zainuddin’s Larut.

Both seats were contested under the Umno banner in the 14th general election but, shortly after, the lawmakers jumped over to Bersatu.

Mr Awang agreed and said Umno was even willing to contest in Mr Muhyiddin’s Pagoh seat if things do not work out between the Malay parties.

“Even though the Prime Minister is from Bersatu, if Parliament is dissolved, Bersatu’s chances of winning are slim.

“Umno will definitely want back the seats from Bersatu. They do not want to work together, it would be detrimental to their support.

“If things head this way, Umno will even contest in Pagoh,” he said.

However, Merdeka Centre’s Mr Ibrahim Suffian said Umno is doing a lot of political posturing but does not want to make a move.

“The game is still in play, it is an evolving situation. Party leaders are still posturing to extract a better concession and pressure their counterparts,” he said.

The pollster’s research director added Umno, especially president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, is trying to squeeze the best deal out of Bersatu and Mr Muhyiddin.

“Certain leaders in Umno seem to want the government to collapse. The posturing is there but they never really pull the trigger.

“If the government collapses, an election is inevitable. If that happens, they (Umno) do not want to be blindsided,” Mr Ibrahim said.

But Mr Awang said Umno is listening to their grassroots and the sentiment on the ground is to not negotiate with Bersatu after the Sabah state elections, and instead call for snap polls.

“Umno wants fresh elections, that is why they want to formalise ties with PAS,” he said.

Umno offered Bersatu to officially join MN in August and was accepted by the party, but the recent decision to register MN did not include Bersatu.

This means when the next general election is called, Bersatu will contest alone with other PN parties.

It is also unclear if Umno’s Barisan Nasional (PN) allies like Malaysian Indian Congress and Malaysian Chinese Association will also follow suit and pull out of PN.

The move comes at the height of tensions between Umno and Bersatu, a party that was formed to mirror Umno to contest the last Malaysian general election.

Umno is mulling over whether to either support or reject the party’s political bureau decision on Oct 13 to reassess the party’s support for PN.

After the meeting, Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said Umno is considering withdrawing its support, and will come out with new terms if it decides to continue its cooperation with Mr Muhyiddin.

Party insiders said the demands include a cabinet reshuffle, in which more pertinent portfolios are given to Umno leaders and, possibly, a demand for the deputy prime minister post.

This move comes after Umno lost out to Bersatu in Sabah for the chief minister’s post, where Bersatu’s Hajiji Md Noor was sworn in instead of Umno Sabah chief Bung Moktar Radin. THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

Related topics

Malaysian politics Bersatu UMNO PAS Perikatan Nasional Malaysia

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