It’s other partners who are at Umno’s mercy, says analyst

Umno’s ability to represent the Malay population puts other parties in the unity government at its mercy, says an analyst.

(FMT) – Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara disputed the view of Umno deputy president Mohamad Hassan that Umno was “at the mercy of others” in the governing coalition.

Mohamad had contended that it would make no difference if Umno withdrew from the Anwar Ibrahim-led coalition. However, Azmi disagreed.

“Other parties in the government are at the mercy of Umno,” Azmi told FMT. If Umno were to leave the coalition, the opposition Perikatan Nasional would capitalise on the rift by trying to convince Umno to join them.

“While it would still not be enough (to form a government) on its own, it is likely that Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah would also then join that Umno-PN coalition,” he said.

The government coalition has a total of 148 seats in the Dewan Rakyat, making up a two-thirds majority. PH holds 82 seats while Umno has 26.

Umno’s influence is critical in the government, he said. In the state elections, PH will need Umno to attract the Malay votes and sustain itself against the onslaught of the ‘green wave’ of the 2022 general election, when PAS, a member of Perikatan Nasional, won 49 seats, the most for any party.

James Chin of the University of Tasmania said securing Malay support was critical to defending Anwar’s fragile majority because if PAS were to make big gains again, confidence in Anwar would wane and put his hopes of surviving a full term in jeopardy.

“But this depends on the state elections. If PH and Umno can win the Malay support, it would be more stable,” he said.

Chin also said Mohamad was just reminding members to be realistic about making demands, especially since many in Umno were used to calling the shots.