With the 15th General Election just around the corner, the question on everyone’s mind is whether Perikatan Nasional (PN) will be able to move forward with their entire coalition intact.
While on the surface, it may seem like a good idea for Umno to stay with PN and unite the Malay vote, a closer look might reveal that it may be more beneficial to Muhyiddin then it is to Umno.
Umno’s support should not be underestimated simply because Barisan Nasional did not win the 2018 elections. In spite of everything, they are still a force to be reckoned with.
Let’s not forget that even while corruption allegations and the 1MDB scandal loomed over Umno, they still won the most seats as an individual party in the last election.
However, in the current arrangement with PN, Umno plays a diminished role and is made to take a backseat to Muhyiddin and Bersatu. It’s no secret, the relationship between PN and Umno is more parasitic then it is symbiotic.
Najib Razak, former leader of Umno has been continuously sounding the alarm on Umno’s future with PN.
“If Umno continues in this way, only becoming a component party of the government and getting treated like a stepchild, despite the major role we play, then just wait for the demise of Umno” he said.
Even though Umno was a crucial factor in helping Muhyiddin become prime minister, PN’s cabinet simply did not reflect the significance of Umno’s support.
Important positions which hold considerable powers such as Finance Minister, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of International Trade and Industry slipped Umno’s grasp.
Muhyiddin even found a way to avoid giving Umno the deputy prime minister role by replacing it with four senior minister roles, of which Umno only one got one.
Collaborating with Umno it seems, was simply a means to an end for Muhyiddin.
One can only imagine that the seat negotiation process for the general election will be an even bigger struggle for supremacy. One party will have to give in. From the looks of it, it won’t be Bersatu.
Bersatu’s secretary-general Hamzah Zainuddin has already stated that the party is in the midst of setting-up of many new branches across the country. Keep in mind that you can only contest in a particular constituency if you have a branch set up there.
It is not a stretch to say that Bersatu will be looking to contest for even more seats despite not performing well in the last general election.
Pakatan Harapan(PH) was generous enough to allow Bersatu to contest 52 seats. Out of which, they only won 13. Even with the support of PH voters, especially minority voters, Bersatu won many of their seats with a margin of less than 10%. Their success was also tied to their former party leader Mahathir Mohamed.
Bersatu has none of those advantages this time around. It will be a feat for many in Bersatu to hold on to their parliamentary seats if they were to be challenged by both Umno and PH.
Frankly speaking, Bersatu is simply no match for Umno’s name recognition after decades of ruling the country. No matter which way you swing it, Umno still has far more political mileage by themselves than Perikatan Nasional does as a coalition.
Umno must find the courage to leave PN behind.It would make no sense to continue playing second fiddle to a significantly smaller party.
If Umno aligns with Pas and other parties from East Malaysia, it’s possible that they win the election and get hold of the coveted prime minister position once more. What would happen to Bersatu? Well let’s just say, Bersatu would be in very big trouble.
Even if it doesn’t play out in that exact manner, Umno at the very least can use their leverage to act as kingmaker and demand important cabinet positions in exchange for their support in forming the government.
Staying with PN would ensure a slow and painful death. Umno will ironically tread the same path as MCA, the one time powerhouse who eventually lost the Chinese vote because they appeared as nothing more than Najib loyalists.
Umno has already wasted too much time losing credibility by standing behind PN’s many failures as a government. If Umno does decide to leave, they must do so immediately.
Umno must capitalize on their very real support and remind Malaysians that even at their worse, they were never as bad as Muhyiddin’s “double-standard” government.