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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Umno severing ties with Bersatu?


ADUN SPEAKS | How serious is Umno in severing its ties with Bersatu?

When will this relationship be severed? Will it be on the eve of the next general election?

If the relationship is not severed, what could be the probable cause?

Going by the political statements and speeches before Umno’s AGM, during the gathering and afterwards, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that Umno will have no choice but to part ways with Bersatu.

Not only did Umno fail to capture political power in the last general election, even with the putsch organised by Bersatu and its allies, Umno did not have a major role in the government.

All the plum positions went to those in Bersatu, unfortunately including those who deserted Umno and PKR.

Umno appeared like a wounded tiger licking its wounds, waiting for another day.

The thinking that the Perikatan Nasional government would put aside the corruption cases of some senior Umno leaders, including the former party president Najib Abdul Razak and his deputy, the present president of Umno, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, did not materialise.

Resentment and anger have grown in Umno

Najib was found guilty and sentenced, although he's out pending his appeal.

Since the present government under Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has not indicated that Umno leaders would be let off the hook, resentment and anger have grown in Umno, leading to open statements of its members’ displeasure with Bersatu.

The ouster of the Bersatu menteri besar in Perak and replacement by an Umno candidate has merely increased the temperature.

The fact that some Umno ministers in the PN government have become too cosy with the Bersatu leadership has not gone well with Umno leaders at all levels.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

Recently, veteran Umno leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah called upon those Umno members holding ministerial and government-linked company positions to quit their posts as Umno regards its links with Bersatu as indefensible.

Umno’s contradictions with Bersatu are very glaring and its decision to sever its links seems understandable.

PAS just another opportunistic political party

But then, Umno’s quarrel is not with Bersatu alone, PAS, the Islamic Party, has been a steady source of irritation.

The rapprochement between Umno and PAS in Muafakat Nasional has come to nought.

PAS, despite its religious credentials, is just another opportunistic political party.

Its association with Bersatu in the name of religion and race is just an excuse to be part of the federal government to enjoy the perks of power and positions.

Umno has realised that PAS is a highly unreliable party, a party that would have no qualms in abandoning its friend when opportunities arise.

Anyway, at Umno’s annual general meeting last week, there were oblique criticisms levelled by delegates against the PAS leadership for abandoning its friend, Umno, for a newfound friend.

Chances are that if the spread of the pandemic is contained to some extent, the country might be going to the 15th general election.

The question is: with all the sabre-rattling by Umno leaders about its decision to sever ties with Bersatu, will the crucial break take place?

It might. Or it might not. Umno being Umno with all its crass opportunism, nothing is certain.

Last-minute manoeuvres might take place, with Umno once again coming into the fold of the PN government.

This is a real possibility.

Despite the race rhetoric, Umno has never been known to be a party of principles.

Like PAS, it would invoke both race and religion as political rallying points to garner support.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi

Scratch the surface, race and religion are convenient tools for power and enrichment.

The corruption cases involving top Umno leaders might cut both ways.

It might lead to a major break and the parting of ways, but at the same time, it might constrain Umno from forging ahead without Bersatu, or even without PAS, for that matter.

There is no clean slate for Umno to move ahead without Bersatu or PAS. There are clear indications that PAS will not follow Umno, for it does not want to be left in the political wilderness devoid of materialism. For PAS, there are obvious limits to race and religion.

Even if Umno has the legitimacy of history as the champion of the Malays, the earlier political scenario is not there to galvanise Malays. Malay-based political parties in the country are faced with competing loyalties and ties.

It is not Umno that is going to disappear from the political scene. Far from it. But its appeal might not be there, hence constraining any bold moves. - Mkini

RAMASAMY PALANISAMY is Perai assemblyperson and deputy chief minister II of Penang.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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