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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Umno's BN decisions are unilateral

 


Following Umno's at its conclave last weekend to go it alone in GE15 - a decision it inferred was also BN's - the attempt, post-conclave, by MCA and MIC to enter caveats is a futile exercise.

“Umno gets what Umno wants” was what some Umno bigwigs used to say about the party in its heyday whenever issues arose in which Umno seemed to be at odds with its BN partners.

In the event, the ensuing consultations among BN components usually wound up with Umno getting what it had wanted from the outset of the wrangle.

That was then, when Umno was hegemon. Things are different now.

After its ejection from federal power in GE14 in May 2018, Umno is no longer monarch of all that it surveys. But bad habits are hard to shed.

At its meeting last weekend, Umno was back to its domineering ways, at least a pretence of it.

Party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Umno would go it alone at GE15.

With a bare doffing of the hat to the rest of BN, Zahid included BN in Umno's choice to go solo at the next general election.

Mild remonstrance followed from BN coalition partners, MCA and MIC.

MCA president Wee Ka Siong said a BN decision on how to fight GE15 should be made collectively; MIC chief SA Vigneswaran raised a pertinent question as to who would be captain of the BN war party.

Clarifying responses to these queries are not likely to be forthcoming.

All that came through at last weekend's conclave was that Umno is in a paroxysm of rage at Bersatu, with whom it wants nothing to do at GE15.

PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang at Umno AGM last weekend

Umno is also in a huff over its Muafakat Nasional partner, PAS, with whom it is annoyed over the latter's dalliance with Bersatu in the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.

But Umno stopped short of issuing an “either choose us over Bersatu or no go” warning to PAS.

Also, Zahid has not helped matters by announcing in his winding-up speech at the Umno meeting that if BN gained a two-thirds majority at GE15, it would amend the constitution to strengthen syariah law.

This was a huge announcement and likely was not made after discussion with fellow Umno leaders, leave alone consultation with BN partners.

MIC deputy chief M Saravanan issued what amounted to be a mild demurral but so far, nothing is heard from MCA who surely would dissent.

Potential suitors

By now, most observers would have to agree that Zahid was on a tearaway during his winding-up speech at the Umno assembly. And so should be excused his excesses.

Still, it's time MCA and MIC recognise that their filing of caveats at Umno's unilateralism is a futile effort: both parties lack the parliamentary muscle - MCA has two MPs and MIC one - for that exercise to have a chance of success.

A better strategy would be to avoid remonstrating because one's demurrals are likely to go unheeded, with consequent loss of face.

Better to wait for the day when Umno's unilateralism eventuates in it not gaining the number of parliamentary seats at GE15 that will allow it the latitude to call the shots.

In that event, Umno will have to discuss with potential suitors to form a government. These potential partners may well include PKR, DAP and Amanah.

broad hint at this possibility was aired the day following the Umno assembly by its election director Tajuddin Abdul Rahman.

Umno election director Tajuddin Abdul Rahman

He remarked that Umno would discuss with potential partners the formation of a new governing coalition after the results of GE15 make plain the parliamentary standings of the contending parties.

One can count on the realism that is induced by the arithmetic of various parties' parliamentary representation to spawn the compromise arrangements enabling new coalitions to govern.

In that event, MCA and MIC, which are not likely to improve their parliamentary representation at GE15, ought to go along with what Umno wants, even if that means working with PKR and DAP.

That's a better course than continued residence under the PN umbrella where they have to contend with an assertive PAS and a Bersatu that's reluctant to rein in the Islamists.

As to Zahid's syariah leanings, these may well prove a lunge too far. - Mkini


TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for more than four decades.

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

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