by ASILA JALIL / Pic by BERNAMA
TALKS on Umno’s plans to move forward on its own may not be the best option for the party if it plans to claim the majority, as it may still need to cooperate with the Islamist party PAS for support.
University of Malaya political analyst Associate Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said Umno’s decision to walk alone is the best move for the country’s political scene because it ensures fair competition for all.
He said this move could also benefit Umno because by cooperating with other parties and dividing potential seats that the party could win with either Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia or PAS, it would be at the losing end.
“It is viewed as a more democratic approach and gives more options to voters in the next general election.
“If only either one of the parties can contest in a constituency due to their cooperation, it eliminates options for the voters and limits their needs,” he said.
As for Muafakat Nasional (MN) — a strategic partnership between Umno and PAS — he opined that the cooperation would likely end once the Parliament is dissolved as PAS is viewed to be more willing to work with Bersatu at the moment.
“Each party will go their separate ways and they can focus on their strengths in different constituencies,” he added.
Umno currently has 38 seats in Parliament, while PAS has 18. They are both partners in MN.
Senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs Dr Oh Ei Sun opined that Umno is likely to retain at least the same number of seats that it won in the 14th General Election (GE14) three years ago if it contests on its own.
Any potential additional seats largely depend on PAS’ intention, he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR). “If PAS remains with MN and thus, coordinates with Umno on seat distribution to avoid overlap, then Umno is likely to win more seats,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior fellow of the Malaysian Council of Professors Dr Jeniri Amir said Umno may face challenges in GE15 if it decides to contest as a single entity as it could achieve more seats with PAS.
“It is better for them to cooperate with PAS than Bersatu because the latter’s grassroots are weak. The Bersatu we know today is a result of the MPs who had left Umno and PKR and that is why their machinery is weak,” he told TMR.
After being in power for more than six decades, Jeniri said Umno most probably feels belittled to be under the new government without controlling power.
“The party is confident that it can claim victory and be the main player again, while steering the country’s political scene if it stands alone instead of being an extra.
“If Umno and Bersatu work together in GE15, conflicts may arise as both parties would want to defend their seats, including those who have left Umno and joined Bersatu. If Umno leaves PN, they will have a brighter future ahead,” he said.
However, Jeniri said Umno may not take any action before the emergency is lifted as it does not want to be seen as a party that only focuses on politicking instead of the people’s interests.