PETALING JAYA: Recent sackings and suspensions have strengthened Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s position in Umno but may have weakened the party ahead of the state elections, say political observers.
They also expected those given the boot to be welcomed by other parties or coalitions.
Khoo Kay Peng is among political analysts who believed the sackings worked in the Umno president's favour.
However, he said those sacked and suspended carried the support of between 25% and 30% of Umno grassroots.
"Their departure will cause Umno some losses during the next state elections,” he said.
Khoo said sacked leaders including former Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin may be looking for new political platforms.
Khoo said Perikatan Nasional was likely to be a more attractive platform for Khairy compared with Pakatan Harapan, if he "wants to get back at Ahmad Zahid”.
Also sacked was former MP Tan Sri Noh Omar, while Sembrong MP Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein was suspended from the party.
Former Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan, former Youth exco member Datuk Dr Fathul Bari Mat Jahya, former Johor state exco member and Tebrau Umno division chief Datuk Maulizan Bujang and former Jempol MP Datuk Seri Mohd Salim Mohd Shariff were also suspended for six years.
Universiti Sains Malaysia senior lecturer Dr Azmil Mohd Tayeb said Zahid Hamidi had solidified his position within the party and ensured his survival for now.
"The natural choice for the sacked Umno leaders is to join Bersatu and be in the opposition, an unfamiliar status for them,” he added.
Political pundit Dr Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar of the International Islamic University Malaysia, meanwhile, said the purge means two things.
"Ahmad Zahid is strengthening his position, but at the same time inflicting deeper division among the grassroots,” he said.
Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Dr Oh Ei Sun said Khairy may be more suited for Pakatan then Perikatan.
"His image is one of a reformist and progressive. It would be incompatible with the regressive and religious outlook of Perikatan,” he added.
Several Perikatan leaders have stated their support for Khairy and the other leaders who were punished.
Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has said the party is leaving its doors open for Khairy if he wants to join the party.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, however, said on Sunday (Jan 29), that Pakatan will consult its component parties before deciding to accept sacked Umno leaders.