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The effect on Umno if Pejuang joins PN

Analysts say the move will likely affect conservative voters, while Umno itself deals with the repercussions of Pakatan Harapan's intervention in its affair with the RoS.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
2 minute read
Pejuang recently applied to join the Perikatan Nasional opposition bloc. Photo: Bernama
Pejuang recently applied to join the Perikatan Nasional opposition bloc. Photo: Bernama

Umno, once the pinnacle of Malay political power, may find itself in a difficult position as the only Malay party in the government bloc following the unexpected surge of support for Perikatan Nasional (PN), already home to PAS and Bersatu and being courted by would-be newest member Pejuang. 

Political analyst Oh Ei Sun said Pejuang's move towards PN would have an impact among conservative voters in the Malay community. 

However, he said it would not have much effect on voters from more progressive and reformist backgrounds. 

"They may or may not like Umno, with all of its political baggage over the years," Oh, of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, told MalaysiaNow. 

"But many of them shudder even more when contemplating a country ruled by 'green wave' parties," he added, referring to Islamist party PAS which won 49 of the 70 seats it contested at the recent general election – the most of any political party. 

Pejuang, founded by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, applied to join PN earlier this month. 

At last year's general election, it fielded some 60 candidates under the Gerakan Tanah Air coalition, all of whom lost their deposits.  

Mahathir himself, who likewise failed to retain his Langkawi seat, left Pejuang for Putra where he said he would continue championing Malay rights. 

Political observer Azizi Safar said even if PN accepted Pejuang into its fold, it would have no major impact on Umno which he added would likely form an electoral pact with Pakatan Harapan (PH) at the six upcoming state elections. 

"Pejuang is looking for something to cling to, so that it can survive as a political party," he said. 

"It's seeking to join PN in the hope of getting seats to contest at the state elections, particularly in Kedah." 

Fellow political observer Mak Khuin Weng meanwhile said that Umno's public perception had taken a hit from the intervention of Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail in the party's dealings with the Registrar of Societies.

Saifuddin said on March 7 that he had used his ministerial power to exempt Umno from a clause in the Societies Act, allowing the party to forgo elections for its top two posts.

"To the Malays, it's actually more of a castration and making Umno into a eunuch," Mak said. 

"MCA was made out to be a eunuch of Umno. The Chinese hated it too, and swung wholesale towards DAP.

"Now it's Umno's turn to be that eunuch." 

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