THE Perikatan Nasional (PN) government may have to brace for a new political permutation that could threaten its position in the federal administration following Umno’s move to unseat Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu as the Perak Mentri Besar (MB) last Friday.
Political analysts are of the view that the move would shake PN and shackle the coalition from appointing a new MB for Perak due to its razor-thin majority in Dewan Rakyat.
Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris senior lecturer (political history and propaganda) Dr Sahul Hamid Mohamed Maiddin said Ahmad Faizal’s dismissal will create a new political realignment as Umno alone does not have enough numbers to form the state government.
“It will cause conflict and instability within Perak PN because Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia has five seats and to command a simple majority, Umno requires at least 30 seats.
“As such, the question is, will Bersatu continue its support for Ahmad Faizal’s removal and agree with Umno’s candidates as MB? Next, who will be part of this new formation?” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).
He added that the conflict could prolong beyond Perak and would affect the cooperation between PN’s parties in other states and at the national level.
As of yesterday, Bernama reported Barisan Nasional (BN) and Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as saying that the party does not rule out the possibility of working with Pakatan Harapan (PH) in Perak.
Ahmad Zahid admitted that it would be difficult to maintain the previous government based on the statements issued by PAS secretary general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan and Bersatu secretary general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin earlier.
Takiyuddin last Friday said PAS will not participate in efforts to form the new Perak government after Ahmad Faizal failed to get majority support in a vote of confidence in the State Legislative Assembly.
Hamzah in a statement on the same day expressed Bersatu’s regret over the situation.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia senior lecturer (political study) Dr Mazlan Ali believes the political development signals that BN is trying to pull the plug and pressure Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to form a new BN-led coalition.
“The current situation that is happening in Perak is the manifestation of the pressure that Umno is trying to exert on the current government. We can see that they can work and be on the same page as DAP in getting that 48 votes (against Ahmad Faizal),” Mazlan said.
“I doubt that it is only solely based on internal issues within the state as BN has previously signalled a warning if their terms are not met in Budget 2021.
“(BN) must have thought it through as to where they could get the other five votes to achieve the majority,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Sachs Centre on Sustainable Development political scientist Prof Wong Chin Huat said it is obvious that Umno is trying to build a grand coalition in Perak with PH, including DAP.
“This is most rewarding because it opens up all possibilities, but it is also most challenging after its longterm demonisation of the latter,” he told TMR.
However, he said Umno also has two other options — to form a minority government on a confidence and supply agreement (CSA) with PH, or a coalition with PKR and Amanah on CSA with DAP, dependent on reactions given by Umno and PAS.
Wong said “if PAS and Bersatu push too hard” on Umno, Umno would consider these alternatives, as rumours are rife that Johor Bersatu would discuss the possibility of quitting Johor PN to retaliate for what had happened in Perak.
“This threat — to do the same against Umno MB in Johor — is a paper tiger’s threat. Umno can easily reach out to Johor PH for a coalition or even CSA,” Wong added.
After presenting his resignation letter to Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah on Saturday night, Ahmad Faizal quipped that he will be heading to Seri Satria, the residence for deputy PM (DPM).
Wong said the promotion of Ahmad Faizal to federal level, if any, may help lessen the “humiliation” of the Bersatu senior member in Perak.
“But in contrast, if Muhyiddin wants to humiliate Umno, he may even appoint Ahmad Faizal as the DPM — hinted by Ahmad Faizal himself — a position craved by Umno.
“This may put Umno in a greater dilemma. If Umno cannot reach out to PH, at least on a CSA basis, then Umno will have to swallow down such humiliation and live as Bersatu’s junior partner and not equal,” Wong said.
However, Mazlan believes the move against the Chenderiang assemblyman may result in Umno getting more top posts in the government.
“This is an extraordinary move, and we shall wait and see what is going to happen in Perak. If Umno is forming a new government in Perak, then I believe there will be restructuring at the federal level.
“What happened in Perak will be a turning point to what will happen at the federal government,” he said.
By AFIQ AZIZ & SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH – THE MALAYSIAN RESERVE