Will Umno leave Perikatan over Najib’s conviction?

KUALA LUMPUR : Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today said his party will not be part of the informal Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.

He said Umno will instead focus on strengthening the Muafakat Nasional (MN) partnership with its Barisan Nasional (BN) allies and PAS.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi speaks to the media during a press conference at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex July 30, 2020. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi speaks to the media during a press conference at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex July 30, 2020 – Picture by Shafwan Zaidon /MM

Zahid nonetheless said Umno lawmakers would continue to support the PN administration at federal and state levels.

“Support for the Perikatan Nasional government is only based on the backing of Umno and BN elected representatives to form the federal government and some state administrations,” he said during a press conference here.

Zahid also said that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had met with several BN leaders yesterday to discuss the possibility of Pribumi Bersatu joining MN.

“I will leave it to the MN’s central committee to consider Bersatu’s intention to join, in the event that it could reinforce MN for the good of the people and country,” he added.

Zahid’s announcement of Umno’s position today came after former party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak was convicted in the SRC International trial on Tuesday, which triggered a wave of resentment against Muhyiddin’s administration among many grassroots party members.

Two political analysts are of the view that the Perikatan Nasional ruling alliance is in a precarious position following yesterdays conviction of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, alluding to a statement by Umno president Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi as providing a hint there.

Following Najib’s conviction on seven of misappropriating RM42 million from SRC International Sdn. Bhd.  Zahid, who is himself facing multiple charges involving millions from Yayasan Akalbudi, said Umno was set for a drastic move but did not elaborate.

The Perikatan Nasional party leaders

To Associate Professor Dr. Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, the statement implied something big was coming from Umno and showed how precarious Perikatan is right now. 

He however doubted Umno will leave Perikatan despite calls from other leaders for Umno to re-evaluate its role in the alliance. 

“Umno grassroot members are upset because of the perception that Perikatan did not render any help to Najib. They are also think the sentence is too harsh and did not take into account Najib’s contributions to the nation. 

“But I don’t think Umno will pull out from Perikatan since PAS is quite comfortable with the alliance. And if Umno wants to give the best to Najib, it’s better for it to be in the government.”

Dr. Mohd. Azizudin Mohd. Sani of Universiti Malaya expressed the same sentiment.

“I do not know what action Umno would take. We will have to wait for an official statement from the party but if Umno leaves, Perikatan will collapse.

“However based on my observation, I think no one is really ready for another general election. So perhaps they would prioritise by keeping everything together for now,” he said. 

Azizudin also thinks Umno is divided from top to bottom. Statements from their leaders show they are divided.

He reckons that even if Umno leaves the government, a snap election will not necessarily follow because other parties may join Perikatan.

by Ahirul Ahirudin – THE MOLE

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