Umno seen as refusing to change despite setbacks

An academic says the affair over the Melaka chief minister’s post shows warlord politics in Umno is still alive.

(FMT) – The apparent politicking over the Melaka chief minister’s post has prompted an academic to accuse Umno of refusing to change its ways despite the setbacks it has suffered on the political front in recent times.

Referring to the resignation of chief minister Sulaiman Ali and his replacement by Ab Rauf Yusoh, Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid of Universiti Sains Malaysia said it was a manifestation of a power struggle between Umno factions.

“It proves that Umno is still shackled by warlord politics,” he told FMT.

Sulaiman is the assemblyman for Lendu.

He was accused of lobbying for the post soon after the election result was announced.

Fauzi said the chief minister affair would, in a major way, affect Barisan Nasional’s reputation as it would reassert the narrative that the coalition was power hungry.

He said the public would now perceive any talk by Umno about political stability as aimed only at attracting support.

“Umno is giving the impression that politics is only stable when it is in power,” he added.

Political analyst Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said the affair was an example of a familiar situation in Umno, with warlords taking advantage of a power struggle among the higher-ups to boost their own political fortunes.

Referring to the divide in Umno after the party decided against having contests for its top two posts, Oh said those in Melaka were exploiting the situation so that they could aim higher.

These leaders would, however, first need to establish a local power base, he said. “Otherwise, you will have no base and you’ll be easily defeated or become expendable.”

Another analyst, Wong Chin Huat of Sunway University, said the infighting in Melaka Umno would frustrate “middle-ground voters”, causing them to stay home in the upcoming state elections.

He said many Malay voters swung towards Perikatan Nasional in the last general election because they were tired of Umno’s excesses. This was a reference to accusations of arrogance and corruption against Umno, as well as distrust of Pakatan Harapan.

“The chief minister fiasco will remind them that Umno has not changed and PH, by default because of its partnership with BN, is not an alternative either,” he said.