Umno-PAS split at Johor polls will hurt both in the long run, say analysts

Divisions between PAS and Umno will also give rise to more competition and allow other parties a chance to emerge the victor at the election.

(Malaysia Now) – Cracks between Umno and PAS at the Johor state election will be detrimental to both parties in the long run, several political analysts say.

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, they said both parties have strong grassroots support and are popular among Malay voters.

Ahmad Martadha Mohamed of Universiti Utara Malaysia said divisions between Umno and PAS would also give rise to open competition, creating opportunities for other parties to emerge the victor.

“The Malay vote will be split between Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Barisan Nasional (BN), making it difficult to predict what will happen at the 15th general election,” he said.

But Mujibu Abd Muis of Universiti Teknologi Mara said the cooperation between PAS and Umno at the national level was unlikely to last long given that both parties are after the same voter demographic.

Even Pakatan Harapan (PH) was no longer the main political opponent given that Bersatu has emerged as the biggest competition for the Malay vote, still able to threaten Umno, he said.

“That aside, there is still no issue of the Malay vote in states like Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu where the Muafakat Nasional pact is needed as more than just a strategic alliance to counter the PH threat,” he told MalaysiaNow.

“The dilemma of whether PAS should work with Umno or PN has also triggered internal conflicts which clearly show that members are divided into two different groups.”

Umno Kelantan recently decided to cut ties with PAS in the state through the Muafakat Nasional collaboration after the Islamist party entered into cooperation with Bersatu.

The decision was made after the state Umno held a special meeting with PAS at the official residence of Kelantan Menteri Besar Ahmad Yaakob.

Ties between PAS and Umno have become increasingly fraught since their clash at the Melaka state election last month, which the Islamist party contested under the PN logo.

The situation became more complicated when PAS’ proposal to contest the seats in Johor that BN had failed to win at the 14th general election was rejected.

PAS was only offered four of the 56 state seats available, a move purportedly made to ensure that PH does not return to power in Johor.

Mujibu said Umno could not be expected to work with PAS at the Johor polls given that it is on firm footing in the state and able to achieve victory on its own.

“Even PAS in Johor is considered unable to provide additional strength as there is a possibility that a scenario similar to GE14 will occur if PAS moves solo without BN or PN,” he said.

“The presence of Bersatu, Warisan and Muda as well as independent candidates will also give Umno-BN the edge without the need for them to form additional alliances.”

On Umno’s decision to go solo, Martadha said it might have been driven by the results of the Melaka polls which saw BN winning by a landslide.

He said this could have given Umno the confidence to contest the next state election without help from any other party.

“Umno was seen as weak after GE14, which is why it was willing to work with PAS to rally enough support to counter PH,” he said.

“After the Melaka election, Umno became confident that it could do things alone. And with PAS moving more towards PN, the Muafakat Nasional pact no longer appears relevant.”