Sunday, December 5, 2021

Going solo might hurt Umno’s chances at polls, analysts say

Whether at the state or federal level, it would be better for Umno to form an alliance with other political parties, they say.

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Umno’s decision to cut ties with Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional (PN) at the 15th general election and to go solo in the Melaka state polls might prove detrimental for the Malay party, analysts say.

Ahmad Martadha Mohamed from Universiti Utara Malaysia said the move would split the Malay vote and weaken Umno’s chances during both elections.

He also said the declaration by Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi severing cooperation with Bersatu was only rhetoric and did not represent the party’s stand as objections were raised by other leaders.

“Because of this, we can see that Umno itself understands if it wants to win, it needs to work together with others.

“It cannot do it alone. This is a fact,” he told MalaysiaNow.

Adding that cooperation between Umno and Bersatu would be a “win-win situation”, he said Umno also needs Muafakat Nasional, the pact inked with Islamist party PAS.

“Not just Bersatu, it needs PAS as well to win as many Malay votes as possible,” he said.

Martadha said with the formation of PN, Barisan Nasional (BN) was no longer relevant as a political coalition.

He cited the move by many BN component parties including MCA, MIC and Gerakan to voice their support for PN.

“Umno is actually more relevant if it uses the name of the party itself instead of BN,” he said, adding that some decisions by Umno had also been opposed by BN components.

“For me, it would be better for Umno to stand alone than to use the name of BN. That coalition is no longer the same as it used to be.”

Banking on nostalgia

Mujibu Abd Muis from Universiti Teknologi Mara meanwhile said Umno’s greatest challenge at this point revolves around internal reforms and providing a clearer picture of its struggle to the electorate.

“In general, Umno is a party that banks on nostalgia and its service to the Malay community,” he said.

“In this context, it is no longer enough to attract voters, especially from among the younger generation.”

He said this was clear from the sentiments of Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who believed that Umno had strayed from its original spirit.

“The question is whether Umno is ready to undertake the process of reforming its old-fashioned political culture – the patronage system, money politics and so on.

“From the looks of it, this is still difficult to change.”

On Razaleigh’s call for the revival of the “old Umno”, Mujibu said it might be because as a party veteran, he was watching divisions among members.

On the relationship between Umno and Bersatu, meanwhile, Mujibu said it warranted careful consideration.

“At the general election, if the Malay vote is split and there are issues that are not kept in check by Umno such as court cases, it could threaten the party,” he said.

“As long as there are no serious issues following Umno in the election, it might have a chance. But right now, without an alliance with other parties, it will be difficult for Umno to form the government.”

He said the best way for Umno to tackle an election, whether at the state or federal level, would be to have more friends than enemies.

“This is unless the party is offered a chance to prove that it can be a credible government and move towards a new political culture,” he said.

“The fact of Malaysian politics is, there is no one party that can stand on its own to form the government without an alliance with others.”

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