Amanah-Umno feud could be vote-winner, says analyst

A recent spat between Umno and Amanah over former prime minister Najib Razak’s application for a royal pardon could be a boon for the unity government in the run up to the state elections, says an analyst.

(FMT) – Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara described the war of words between them as a strategy or ploy to garner voter support, by showing that each party would stand up for their core principles despite being coalition allies.

“This shows (voters) that Amanah is willing to go against Umno even though they are in the same unity government,” said Azmi.

He said Amanah’s opposition to a pardon for Najib, which would free him from prison, was in line with the views of most Pakatan Harapan voters, particularly non-Malay PH supporters.

As for Umno, defending its former president’s pardon application would inspire confidence among Malay voters that the party was still willing to stand up to Amanah, which is a close ally of DAP.

Last week, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had urged all parties to stop making “inappropriate comments” on the party’s moves in support of a pardon for Najib.

Zahid’s call was made in reponse to Amanah communications director Khalid Samad calling for Najib’s pardon application to be rejected. Amanah is a member of PH which is a partner of Umno in the coalition government.

The saga continued with Kelantan Umno getting involved, followed by Umno Supreme Council member Puad Zarkashi accusing Amanah of questioning the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s discretion over the pardon application.

Universiti Sains Malaysia political analyst Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid said Umno should not make a mountain out of a molehill, as Khalid had a reputation “of being a loose cannon”.

It would have been different if the statement came from a figure of authority in PKR or DAP, he said.

“Umno should be more mature and not portray Amanah as having a decisive say representing PH, when in reality it is behind PKR and DAP,” he said.