Sticking with PH a necessary risk for Umno, say analysts

There are still elements of rejection against Umno that have not been addressed

(FMT) – Analysts say that continuing in partnership with its one-time foe Pakatan Harapan (PH) is a risk, but one that Umno must accept in order to remain part of the government.

Mazlan Ali of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia said the optimism shown by Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi during the recent unity government convention in Ipoh, Perak, highlighted the reality for the party moving forward.

“Umno cannot form a government on its own. If it aligns with Perikatan Nasional (PN), Bersatu becomes a threat as it was established to replace Umno. PAS’s influence is also expanding,” he told FMT.

Ilham Centre executive director Hisomuddin Bakar agreed but said that PH, too, was facing a similar situation.

“Logically, both coalitions need each other. PH needs Barisan Nasional (BN) to boost support from the Malay voters which it did not secure.

“Meanwhile, Umno and BN need PH to garner the non-Malay votes that MCA and MIC have failed to attract,” he said.

Zahid, at the convention on Jan 28, expressed confidence that the unity government would continue to govern even after the next general election (GE16), provided that every level within the component parties continued to uphold sincerity, consensus, and transparent negotiations.

Mazlan said Umno had few options as the political landscape no longer allowed it to dominate.

“Throughout its collaboration with the government, Umno needs to seize the opportunity to regain the Malay support it once had,” he said, adding that this would require hard work, failing which the party would continue to face rejection.

Hisomuddin meanwhile said he had seen no signs of recovery for the support lost by Umno-BN in recent elections.

“This is because there are still elements of rejection against Umno that have not been addressed,” he said.

He added however that the circumstances of other Malay parties in the run-up to GE16 would have an impact on the Malay vote.

“It hinges on how the Malay parties sustain themselves as GE16 approaches, given that the dynamics within Bersatu, PAS, and PN itself may change.”