PPBM row puts Umno at risk of becoming irrelevant, says analyst

(FMT) – A political analyst says Umno will lose its relevance to its supporters the longer it dithers on cutting ties with PPBM.

Lee Kuok Tiung of University Malaysia Sabah said the party’s grassroot members are clear about what they want the party leadership to do. Although most divisions do not want Umno to work with PPBM at the next general election, the Umno Supreme Council was still weighing the pros and cons of cutting ties with PPBM.

The council, Umno’s highest decision-making body, has deferred any decision until its annual general assembly at the end of this month.Lee said it was the Barisan Nasional lynchpin that had the most to lose in an Umno-PPBM-PAS collaboration.

“PPBM and PAS benefit the most because with Umno’s help they can form the government despite Umno holding the most seats and enjoying the strongest grassroot support.”

Lee said the party leadership risked losing grassroot support the longer the links with PPBM remained.

“The leadership is in a dilemma and each time Umno does not pull the trigger, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin gets stronger,” he said.

Former Universiti Teknologi Malaysia academic Azmi Hassan said he believed the Covid-19 pandemic was holding the Umno leadership back; they would not want to be blamed for triggering a snap general election.

At the same time, he said, the reality was that Barisan Nasional, Perikatan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan all know it will be difficult to form a government with a comfortable majority without an alliance with one or the other.

“Even though Umno is the strongest going into GE15, they know they cannot afford to go it alone as PPBM and PAS will split the Malay votes. The same goes for PPBM and PAS if they do not cooperate with Umno.”

Sacrifices, he said, have to be made as neither Barisan Nasional nor Perikatan Nasional will be able to win the non-Malay votes which could be the kingmaker.

“To me, though the Umno leadership is hesitant, it is Muhyiddin and PPBM that will have to ensure Umno stays because it is unlikely that Umno will defy their grassroots if PPBM doesn’t make sacrifices.”