‘There’s still time for realignments despite Umno decision’

Assembly in red: Ahmad Zahid with Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan arriving for the Umno general assembly in Kuala Lumpur. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: While the Umno general assembly was clear on severing ties with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, there is still time for political manoeuvrings before the next general election, say political analysts.

Prof Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod of the International Islamic University Malaysia said the assembly’s stand was expected, based on statements made by several leaders prior to the gathering.“Umno has made a decisive statement to cut ties with Bersatu and wants to lead the charge in the coming polls.

“However, the decision made at the assembly will not be the end of things as there is still time for political realignments before the polls, which I believe will be held next year, ” he said yesterday.

He said the assembly also showed Umno was split between those who want to sever ties with Bersatu and those who want the party to remain part of the Perikatan Nasional administration.

“There are calls for several Umno leaders in the Cabinet to resign (from their posts).

“I don’t think this will happen as there are sections within Umno and even their grassroots who want their leaders to remain part of the administration because this will give them a platform to better serve the rakyat, ” he added.

Nik Ahmad Kamal also believes that PAS, which is tied to Umno under the Muafakat Nasional pact, would mediate between Umno and Bersatu.

“I don’t think PAS wants to choose between Umno and Bersatu.

“PAS will act as a mediator as it knows Malay unity is important for the nation as a whole, ” he said.

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said the assembly showed Umno was willing to face the general election alone.

“Umno does not want to play second fiddle to any party anymore and wants to be the dominant party heading into the polls.

“However, Umno won’t mind working with others who want to join them, but only if Umno leads, ” he said.

He added that PAS would now have to decide if it would remain with Umno under Muafakat or stick to the Perikatan coalition.

As for Bersatu, he said the party would have to consider expanding its cooperation as the Perikatan coalition moved ahead without Umno.

However, Sivamurugan said there was still time for the political landscape to evolve despite Umno’s clear stand during the assembly.

“This is not a permanent decision as it is suited for the current political situation.

“Umno may revisit its decision months from now to seek new political collaboration.

“In politics, there are no permanent friends or foes as it is all about the numbers, ” he added.

Sivamurugan also noted that whatever decision was made at the assembly would still have to be brought to the party’s supreme council for endorsement.

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