Uncertainties continue to jeopardise PN’s existence

PN could also split up if leaders in the coalition fail to reach an understanding over the power arrangement

by AFIQ AZIZ/ pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

THE Perikatan Nasional (PN) government can still function and retain its power for a full term before the next general election, but observers said it risks being dissolved or faces structural changes should “friendly fire” among the component members continue.

Prof Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia said among the possible structural changes in PN is crossovers by the Opposition MPs into the government block if the Umno lawmakers decide to leave PN.

Currently, Umno is the largest party propping up PN, with 39 MPs out of the total of 113 seats, followed by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia with 31.

PAS and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) have 18 seats each, while MCA has two. MIC has one seat and the remaining are from small parties based in Sabah.

Mohd Azizuddin said PN could also split up if leaders in the coalition fail to reach an understanding over the power arrangement, which is now mainly dominated by Umno and Bersatu.

He said it is unclear how long PN can stay, especially with the latest development which saw Bersatu requesting to join Muafakat Nasional (MN), another coalition that was earlier formed by Umno and PAS last year which is aimed at strengthening the support from Bumiputera voters. “I think this fragile coalition can collapse anytime, depending on the situation.

However, it will not be too soon as the members have to sort out economic issues which will be included in the upcoming Budget 2021 which will be tabled later this year.

“Besides, they can politically compromise and rationalise, and come to a realisation that being part of the ruling entity is better than being in the Opposition.

“We also cannot discount any possibility of Umno ceasing its support for PN and the Pakatan Harapan (PH) block to sway their support for Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“So, everything is still uncertain as the dynamics can change by the day,” Mohd Azizuddin told The Malaysian Reserve.

In the wake of the Kuala Lumpur High Court conviction of former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak against multiple corruption charges on July 28, Umno supporters and leaders have been mulling a review of the party’s position in the PN government.

Mohd Azizuddin said the situation has also caused a further split even within Umno, with certain quarters within Umno suggesting that the party leaves the federal administration.

However, analysts also added that Umno members should not be too emotional in their reaction towards the court’s verdict, as Najib — the seventh Umno president — is expected to forward an appeal to the higher court.

Former Umno Youth chief and Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar had asked the supporters to “move on” and not to be carried away with the court decision.

“It is clear that Umno is now split into two camps. One side wants Umno as a block to quit PN with a hope that a snap election can be held, while the other side asked the party to move on (ahead of Najib’s case),” Mohd Azizuddin said.

Two days after the ruling, Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the media that Umno would not join PN, if the alliance were to be formalised as Umno would rather focus on strengthening its coalition with PAS under the MN banner.

At the same time, Ahmad Zahid said Bersatu had requested to join MN, a move that has to be reviewed by PAS and Umno leaderships.

“Following this, it is also possible to see that Bersatu will be part of MN but with the dominance of Umno in the coalition, it may be tough for Bersatu. So far, Bersatu only relies on Muhyiddin’s position as the PM,” Mohd Azizuddin added.

Earlier in May, Barisan Nasional (BN) secretary general Tan Sri Annuar Musa said there is no need for BN to rush into registering PN as a political entity for the time being, as the proposal to register PN needs to get the support of party members at every level.

In July, Bersatu secretary general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said the registration process was being drawn and would be concluded “as soon as possible”, adding that the registration required the cooperation of all coalition parties and must be looked into thoroughly in order for it to be adjusted according to the constitutions and procedures of the respective parties.

Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun (picture) said it is irrelevant whether Umno is part of the PN alliance or not, as the national constitution only requires a majority of MPs to support Muhyiddin.

“Before Umno said it would not be part of PN, GPS had also said the same and the government can still function.

“The same applies to Parti Warisan Sabah which is not a member of PH but has pledged its support to the coalition. It does not quite make sense but ultimately, what matters is that the MPs still support Muhyiddin even if there is no PN anymore,” he said.

Oh added that the understanding between Umno and PAS in MN is a stronger coalition compared to PN — which now appears to only consist of Bersatu — or one party alliance.

“Of course, it would appear that Bersatu and Muhyiddin are in difficult situations so he may have to decide to either join Umno or join MN to stay relevant.

“But surely, Umno wants to be dominant and it would not be surprising if they put the condition for Bersatu to just rejoin Umno — which to some extent, also offers Muhyiddin to be its future president,” Oh added.