Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s position in Umno may come under threat if his party fails to win the Melaka state election, with the possibility of his ouster as president, analysts say.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, they said the clash of “two camps” in Melaka which led to the dissolution of the state legislative assembly showed the chinks in Zahid’s armour as party president.
Hisommudin Bakar, executive director of Ilham Centre, said the Melaka polls would also have a direct effect on Zahid’s leadership, and that calls would be raised for the expedition of the Umno election.
“If Umno fails in Melaka this time, it will place clear pressure on Zahid as president when the election is held,” he said.
“There could be calls for him to step down.”
The Melaka assembly was dissolved on Oct 4 after the move by four assemblymen to withdraw their support for Chief Minister Sulaiman Md Ali.
The assemblymen were Sungai Udang rep Idris Haron, Nor Azman Hassan (BN-Pantai Kundor), Noor Effandi Ahmad (Bersatu-Telok Mas) and Norhizam Hassan Baktee (Bebas-Pengkalan Batu)
Their move triggered the second change in state leadership since the Melaka government led by Pakatan Harapan (PH) collapsed in 2020.
Ahmad Marthada Mohamed, a political observer from Universiti Utara Malaysia, said Zahid’s inconsistent stance on the crisis had also tarnished his reputation.
“He was the one who said a state election should be held, but he was also the one who said an emergency should be enforced to prevent this,” he said to MalaysiaNow.
He added that the internal conflict in Umno was triggered by weaknesses in leadership, especially among the top echelons.
PH to gain?
Marthada said PH could retake Melaka if Umno and Perikatan Nasional (PN) contest the election separately.
“In Melaka, there are areas that will almost certainly be won by DAP. There are also areas where, without cooperation between PN and Umno, it could be hard for candidates from these blocs to win.
“Three-cornered fights would benefit PH,” he added. “This was what happened during the 14th general election, and we will see history repeat itself if no negotiations are held between Umno and PN.”
He said the allegations of misappropriation in sand projects in Melaka had also had an impact on Umno in the state since Idris, as former chief minister, was still influential.
“Imagine if Melaka is not won by Umno-Barisan Nasional but instead is suddenly taken over by PH. This would weaken the president’s credibility,” he said.
“I believe that little by little, the pressure will be felt, starting with Umno’s crisis in Melaka and the statements by party leaders that appear to be at odds.”
Marthada also said that the fear of sparking another wave of Covid-19 infections as had happened after the Sabah election last year would affect voter turnout in Melaka.
“The people are also anticipating a general election not long from now,” he said. “There is no sentiment to make them turn out to vote.
“In Melaka, there are not many voters,” he added. “If only a handful decide to vote, taking into account split votes as well, this will definitely have an effect.”
But if voter turnout is low, he said, it will not be easy for PH to retake Melaka, either.
“A PH victory would be contingent on at least 85% of the electorate turning up to vote, comprising the three segments which helped it win in 2018 – the Chinese, out of state voters, and young voters.”