Muafakat with Bersatu not likely, says analyst

An analyst believes the possibility of Muafakat Nasional (MN) being strengthened with Bersatu joining is low, despite PAS’ constant endeavour to unite the Malay-Muslim parties.

(FMT) – Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid said the way Bersatu behaved in controlling government positions would affect the party’s future in MN, adding that there were many “sour grapes” in Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s faction.

He also said MN was far from dead and would remain so unless either Umno or PAS decided to officially undo the alliance that was formalised in a charter of political cooperation in September 2019.

“This scenario (of all three parties cooperating) still has a distant chance of coming about. It will depend to what extent Zahid is prepared to forgive Bersatu and the pro-Perikatan Nasional (PN) faction in Umno come GE15.

“The way Zahid’s faction has been sidelined by the ninth prime minister (Ismail Sabri Yaakob) has been particularly painful, I reckon. Ismail is clearly setting his eyes on the Umno presidency, and Zahid won’t surrender it easily,” he told FMT.

But Fauzi said MN was still useful as a form of “insurance”, especially for PAS, in case the PN coalition that it is a part of with Bersatu collapses or “turns awry”.

He said PAS was a seasoned political party that could easily turn its back on Bersatu should the need arise.

“Remember that Bersatu’s future is on a cliffhanger in GE15. Without its hold on power due to possible numerical deficiencies post-GE15, what good will PN be? MN may then come in handy,” he said.

“PAS is a seasoned political actor in Malaysia. It is perfectly capable of doing U-turns and is adept at finding scriptural justification for any of its political actions.

“I won’t be surprised if it reaches the extent of ditching Bersatu when Bersatu is no longer useful for PAS to achieve its political ambition.”

Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Pawi said Umno’s demand to keep its traditional seats and contest seats lost when its elected representatives defected to Bersatu would be a key issue.

He said it would be tough for Umno to hand over any seat to either Bersatu or PAS, particularly Bersatu, as it would not want to concede to a smaller and newer party.

Awang Azman told FMT that MN itself would face problems when it came to seat distribution as all three parties were clamouring for the votes of the Malays.

“Umno is expected to continue refusing to work with Bersatu in GE15, and any cooperation is expected to only be at the state level or limited to certain areas,” he said.

Earlier, PAS veteran Mahfodz Mohamed said Umno needed to acknowledge that it was no longer the dominant force in Malaysian politics and that it needed the support of Bersatu and PAS to win GE15.

He said all three parties had to unite to strengthen the Malay-Muslim bloc and put their disputes behind them, warning that failing to do so could see Pakatan Harapan returning to power.