Umno’s quick decision to withdraw itself from PN shocked many, including its MN partner, PAS
pic by ARIF KARTONO
A WEEK is a long time in politics. British Prime Minister (PM) Harold Winston was quoted uttering this famous phrase more than 50 years ago and somehow, his remarks ring true in Malaysia even more so now.
On July 28, the High Court sentenced former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) to 12 years in jail and RM210 million fine after being found guilty on all seven charges in relation to misappropriation of SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds.
With the court verdict, Najib once again created history by becoming the first former PM in Malaysia to be a convicted felon.
Observers have said that this could spell the end of Najib’s political career, although the 67-year-old maintained that “this is not the end of the world”.
It is within Najib’s right to appeal his case. However, for the time being, he can no longer contest in the next general election due to his pending appeal.
On top of the remaining 35 charges related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd, it is hard to picture the man to be the politician he once was.
Although he remains popular — on social media at least — with multiple court procedures on his plate, Najib will need at least a few years to regain his political footing.
On the global scale, he is well known, for obvious reasons…
For some, the aftermath of the verdict has snowballed earlier than anticipated.
Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) early death may be imminent, depending on how Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia leaders are going to appease its partners in the coalition.
Umno’s quick decision to withdraw itself from PN shocked many, including its Muafakat Nasional (MN) partner, PAS.
In hindsight, however, the reaction is not totally unexpected especially after Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had previously announced that Umno needs to “do something” in a quick response to the High Court’s decision.
Although the party’s withdrawal from PN does not mean that Umno has withdrawn support from the government, the move signals how the party can no longer afford to be second fiddle anymore.
Over the weekend, Umno, Bersatu and PAS leaders were caught in an exchange of words regarding their positions on MN or PN that it makes one wonder whether Barisan Nasional (BN) is no longer relevant in the current political climate.
It was also reported that Ahmad Zahid’s move was not done in consensus, as other party leaders claimed they were left in the dark about it.
To date, PAS has stated its intention to remain in PN and this allows room for speculations on whether there is a ticking time bomb in the coalition.
The ball is in PM and Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s court in navigating and appeasing Umno leaders and its members.
Muhyiddin had said in a statement that the PN government will continue to uphold the rule of law in the country, but he respects Najib’s right to appeal the decision. Still, the Pagoh MP may find it easier to appease Umno leaders who are not friendly to Najib, but it is a different battlefield against his staunch supporters.
Former Umno supreme council member Datuk Lokman Adam has been publicly attacking Muhyiddin, accusing the PM of seeking revenge for his dismissal from Umno and deputy PM position five years ago.
Another supreme leader Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi said the PM is the biggest winner as Najib no longer poses a threat to his position.
There is no telling the direction of the PN coalition at the moment. However, as pointed out by many, Muhyiddin is a seasoned politician who has seen and done it all in the past three decades.
It is also pretty impossible for the man to not be prepared in facing inner grumblings and a possible backlash in his administration.
The question is, who will be the first to make a move?
Azreen Hani is the online news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.