Does Umno have what it takes to add value to Pakatan Harapan in state polls?

The upcoming state elections will test the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional ‘relationship’ and how it will manifest itself. It is also a test to see if the public is behind the unity government.

Barisan Nasional’s strongest component party, Umno, is set to contest in the polls ‘solo’ after fellow component members MIC and MCA chose to sit out the state elections.

Despite being part of the eight-month-old unity government, there are indications that a 100 per cent vote transferability from Umno to Pakatan Harapan and vice-versa, will not happen.

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Policy Research and International Studies director, Associate Professor Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk, said one of the reasons for this is the dissatisfaction among Umno members with its decision to work with Pakatan Harapan.

“There are talks that these Umno members will boycott the election and vote for Perikatan Nasional, as they cannot accept working with (Datuk Seri) Anwar (Ibrahim) and DAP,” said Azeem.

On March 28, 2021, Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi declared that Umno was resolute in its ‘No DAP, No Anwar, No Bersatu’ call. However, Ahmad Zahid sang a different tune after GE15, by spearheading negotiations to set up a unity government with Pakatan Harapan.

Azeem said the dissatisfaction within Umno should not be disregarded despite the absence of solid data on how both Umno and PH are set to complement each other in the polls.

“Even (Datuk Seri) Najib Razak’s children (Nooryana Najwa and Datuk Mohd Nazifuddin), have said that their father’s supporters will either not turn out to vote, or vote for the opposition,” Azeem pointed out.

Najib’s children, who are both Umno members, had claimed that Najib’s supporters were frustrated by the inaction by Umno in seeking a royal pardon for the former prime minister who is now behind bars.

Azeem said while Umno and Ahmad Zahid’s influence will most likely be tested in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan – which is set to be the main battleground between Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional – the onus will be on Umno to add value to Pakatan Harapan.

“Umno only managed to capture 26 parliamentary seats in GE15. Based on voter sentiments in Kedah, Terengganu, and Kelantan, it is safe to assume that the majority of Malay voters will rally behind Perikatan Nasional.

“How can Umno add value to Pakatan Harapan when there are so many factions within the party?”

While the number of voters that turn out to vote will ultimately be the deciding factor, Azeem said the chances of Umno winning even a handful of seats right now, appear slim.

“Anwar still needs Umno at the federal level to be the government of the day. Yet, all indicators show that they do not need Umno at the state level,” said Azeem.

“Umno should just sit out the state elections, but it won’t, as it wants to ‘save face’.

Main image: Facebook/Zahid Hamidi 

Tagged with: