Umno-PPBM ceasefire won’t last, analysts predict

(FMT) – A political analyst has scoffed at Umno’s declaration of a ceasefire in its dispute with PPBM, saying it won’t be long before the two parties clash again.

Speaking to FMT, Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs described the ceasefire as “cosmetic and opportunistic” and “temporary” at best.

He alleged that Umno had made the declaration to avoid being blamed for playing politics at a time of difficulty for the nation.

“It is taking advantage of the difficult pandemic situation to position itself loftily while not actually proclaiming full support for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin,” he said.

“It is also conceivable that Umno and PAS are playing good cop and bad cop in forcing Muhyiddin’s hand and simultaneously diverting his attention with the ultimate goal of wearing him down so that he’ll give in to their demands.”

Yesterday, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi declared a political ceasefire and reiterated the party’s support for the government amid strained ties between Umno and PPBM.

Last week, Umno said it had set “new conditions” for its continued support of the government.

Oh said he believed the two parties would cross swords again when Covid-19 cases had subsided because Umno wanted to be the leader in the ruling coalition with Muhyiddin relegated to being a figurehead at most.

Jeniri Amir of the National Council of Professors said the ceasefire would help cool political temperatures at a time when the nation’s focus must be on fighting Covid-19 and restoring the economy.

“Umno is being realistic and understanding of the sentiments on the ground, but I believe this is just temporary,” he said.

“If it continues to push its demands now, it will be perceived to be power hungry even though it feels it is reasonable to make the demands because of the number of seats it commands and because of the supposedly unfair treatment it has received.”

He noted that nearly everyone in Mohamed Azmin Ali’s faction had been made either a minister or deputy minister although the faction has much fewer seats than Umno.

He also noted that Umno, which was once dominant in Sabah, was now playing second fiddle to PPBM in the state.

“So they will definitely clash again.”

Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz said yesterday that the dispute in Perak had not been resolved although Umno members in the state would abide by Zahid’s decision.

The former federal minister said Perak Umno would be meeting soon to discuss the matter and added that he did not care what PPBM felt about this.

“We just want issues in Perak to be resolved, such as the appointment of our assemblyman without consultation and the appointment of village chiefs.”

He was referring to the appointment of Umno assemblyman Aznel Ibrahim as political secretary to Perak Menteri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu amid talk of possible defections to PPBM from Umno. Faizal is from PPBM.

Former Universiti Teknologi Malaysia academic Azmi Hassan said the ceasefire would become irrelevant once the Covid-19 situation was under control.

“When that happens, I think the people will accept the dissolution of Parliament in exchange for a more stable government,” he said.