Political reconciliation among Malay parties seen as a tall order

A political analyst sees the strained ties between Umno and PPBM as an obstacle to the kind of national reconciliation that Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki has called for.

(FMT) – Speaking to FMT, Bridget Welsh of the University of Nottingham Malaysia said the challenge in reconciliation, particularly between Umno and PPBM, lay in concessions rather than respect.

Asyraf recently urged political parties to put aside their differences and focus on a “national reconciliation agenda”.

“If you look at what Umno is saying about setting new conditions, it is not looking for reconciliation,” Welsh said. “What it wants is for PPBM to concede in seats, positions and power. It doesn’t want PPBM to challenge it as it did in Sabah.”

Bridget Welsh.

She said this had put Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in a tough position with not much room in which to manoeuvre.

However, she also said Muhyiddin was “quite savvy” and had shown in the past six months that he could negotiate his way out of problems.

“The main question now is whether Umno is willing to accept less than what it wants,” she said. “And if it is willing to accept today, what about tomorrow? How long will it be before it is not satisfied again?”

Syed Arabi Idid.

Syed Arabi Idid of the International Islamic University of Malaysia said Malay parties could work together if they perceived a common enemy and if they believed that cooperating would earn them the votes of the Malays.

But they would likely clash when there was no strong common enemy, he added.

“In the near future there will not be a dominant Malay political party,” he said. “The number of Malay majority seats are fixed. Now you are talking about distributing the Malay seats between three parties.”

He noted that Umno, PAS and PPBM contested against one another in the last general election.

“If they are to stick together, then a lot of sacrifices have to be made and this makes reconciliation problematic. That is why I don’t foresee there being any dominant Malay political party.”

James Chin.
These sacrifices, he said, included the three Malay parties’ willingness to lose their individual identity to come together as one big entity.
James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said he did not see any reconciliation happening, noting that even when Umno was at its strongest, the Malay vote was split with PAS.