Analyst says dissatisfaction in Umno will continue unless demands are met

M Fakhrull Halim
·4-min read
Analyst says dissatisfaction in Umno will continue unless demands are met
Analyst says dissatisfaction in Umno will continue unless demands are met

Rather than a permanent ceasefire, a political analyst has predicted that Umno's ceasefire announcement made amid tensions within Perikatan Nasional (PN) would only last between six months and a year.

National Professors Council senior fellow Jeniri Amir said so long as Umno's demands are not met, any dissatisfaction will continue to simmer, and the political ceasefire would only last until Covid-19 is under control.

"Once things are calmer, the political temperature has cooled, maybe after six months to a year, things will return back to normal.

"This (political ceasefire) is only temporary, after taking into account public sentiment that is largely upset and angry with politicians, seen as obsessed with power (amid the Covid-19 threat)," Jeniri told Malaysiakini.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced the political ceasefire in a reported attempt to focus on addressing Covid-19.

Zahid's announcement came as a shock to some observers as it was only last week that Umno's political bureau was mulling on setting new conditions for its cooperation with Bersatu, aside from considering withdrawing its support of PN.

Umno's call at the time was also made barely hours after PKR president Anwar Ibrahim's audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah to present the purported majority support for his bid to take down the PN administration.

Responding to Anwar's initial announcement of his takeover bid, Zahid had said there could be "many Umno MPs" in support of the plan.

This had led to certain parties claiming that Zahid's ceasefire announcement was a "U-turn" back to PN, although Umno supreme council member Annuar Musa insisted that the Bagan Datuk MP was prioritising the people's lives and health.

Jeniri further said he believed the political ceasefire could be a result of behind-the-scenes negotiations among PN leaders to avoid a "lose-lose situation" amid the Covid-19 threat.

At the same time, he said there could also be other factors, including possible pressure piled on Zahid by Umno leaders after the former's unilateral statement.

"We must remember that in Umno, there are factions, some who support Anwar and others who support Muhyiddin (Yassin).

"We cannot swallow the whole of Anwar's statement because the fact is, any change in the leadership, taking into consideration the threat of Covid-19, will still be related to conflicts, an inner turmoil within Umno itself," he said.

"So that change in the stand is part of a reaction towards the pressure and counter moves by leaders from other factions who disagree with the president's action, decisions, or statements," added Jeniri.

The view that the political ceasefire would not hold is also shared by analyst Wong Chin Huat (above), who shared a lengthy explanation on Facebook.

Wong likened the situation to a love triangle with no happy ending for either Umno or Bersatu, who are fighting for the same love interest.

"Umno and Bersatu are rivals not just for ministership, but ultimately they are two rivals with the same love interest - Malay nationalist constituencies.

"Can two jealous suitors after the same love interest be true friends?" Wong said.

Meanwhile, Universiti Utara Malaysia associate professor in Politics and International Relations Azizuddin Mohd Sani said PAS must also decide whether to choose Muafakat Nasional or PN, as Umno does not appear keen to continue cooperation with PN until the 15th general election.

Azizuddin said Umno must sacrifice its seats to PAS under Muafakat for the 15th general election and make even bigger sacrifices if it continues to contest with Bersatu under PN.

"The grassroots are worried because many division chiefs will no longer be able to contest as they must share with Bersatu," he told Malaysiakini, echoing Jeniri's views that Umno is caught in between PAS' stand.

As for Zahid's own position in Umno, Jeniri argued that the former deputy prime minister continues to enjoy strong support, backed by former Umno president Najib Abdul Razak.

He said Umno's hierarchy system also makes it easier for the president to secure support from members.

"At least two-thirds of members are still in support of Zahid's leadership.

"They (Umno members) know that if they want to be nominated to contest in GE15, they must support the president - or otherwise, there goes their chance," Jeniri said.