Perak crisis: Umno made peace with Bersatu to demand better seats at next general election, say sources

(MMO) – Umno’s ceasefire with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) in Perak is so it can demand better seats at the next general election, sources said.

They told Malay Mail that with the 15th General Election likely to be held in the first half of next year, Umno wants the most and best seats so its leaders have a better chance to helm the next government.

“The consensus is to make Umno the biggest party to win the most seats again in the next general election,” said a source from the party.

“Three-corner fights are not good for anyone… and with Bersatu and PAS, the Malay votes will be split three ways,” the source added.

Another source said that it is more beneficial for Umno to collaborate with Bersatu and PAS in order to appease and safeguard its more conservative voters.

“If Umno collaborates with DAP, it might turn away some of these voters.

“This will make a difference going into GE15,” said the source who is close to Bersatu.

KSI Strategic Institute political analyst Prof Hoo Ke Ping agrees with the assessment, adding that leaving Muafakat Sejahtera, an NGO which was forged last year with PAS, will be hazardous to Umno.

“Umno realises that it cannot abandon its coalition with Bersatu and PAS, especially PAS as the Islamist party is the kingmaker.

“With all parties reconciling, it is the best way forward for all, especially Umno, who without PAS could end up with the same or worse result they faced in 2018,’’ Hoo told Malay Mail.

Hoo then pointed out that with automatic voter registration coming into effect, the Chinese votes overall in the country, which roughly translates to 30 per cent of the voting population, is likely to be diluted further.

“Any cooperation with DAP will cost Umno in the long run. The numbers also don’t add up for the Malay party as they would end up facing multi-prong fights with the likes of PAS, which will further reduce their support,’’ said Hoo.

Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu was deposed as Perak mentri besar through a vote of no-confidence that was initiated by Umno and supported by the Opposition.

However, Bersatu and PAS assemblymen did not agree to Ahmad Faizal’s removal. At that time, PAS openly stated that it will not join the new state government in Perak after reports broke out that Umno was willing to cooperate with DAP.

A source close to Umno told Malay Mail that the proposed cooperation was endorsed by its president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, but was rejected by the party supreme council in a meeting on December 7.

“Zahid is fuming but he has accepted the party’s decision,” the source added.

Reflecting on this, Hoo said that the move reflected badly on Zahid who is also expected to not only steer the party, but keep the peace within Umno.

“This episode, coupled with other past issues, reflects poorly on Zahid, who if he is not careful, could face a crisis of confidence within his own party.

“At the end of the day, Umno’s direction as a party is set by the party’s supreme council and not just its president,’’ Hoo said.

On December 12, a day after Umno’s Datuk Saarani Mohammad and five assemblymen from Umno and Bersatu were sworn in as the new Perak executive council, Barisan Nasional secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa said BN and PN will meet to discuss several matters, especially the distribution of seats for the coming general election.

Bernama reported that Annuar said the understanding between BN and PN as shown in Perak recently (following the political turmoil over the mentri besar issue) would be used as the basic framework for cooperation at the national level during the talks on seat distribution.

He clarified that Muafakat Nasional (MN), which comprises Umno and PAS, would never be registered as a coalition to contest the elections.

“The MN steering committee agreed last week to continue working together. It does not necessarily need to be registered because Umno is already registered under BN and PAS under PN.

“Umno will contest the elections using the BN logo while its partner is PN. The elections will be BN and PN,” he said.