Without A Dowry Umno Unlikely To Rebound With Pkr After Bersatu Breakup


 


Umno, at its general assembly this weekend, is all but set to officially sever its ties with Bersatu for the next general election (GE).
At the same time, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has been having informal discussions with Umno, largely believed to be with its president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, about possible cooperation.
Unfortunately for PKR, however, Umno is unlikely to pick them as a rebound from its breakup from Bersatu - unless there's a considerable dowry involved.
Critics claim that Zahid and other party leaders in his camp who are on trial for corruption could gain some form of amnesty by helping put Anwar in Putrajaya.
But for the rest of Umno, there is limited upside to working with PKR and Pakatan Harapan.
"It will be a tremendous challenge for Zahid to convince the 'cabinet cluster' to work with PKR-Harapan, especially knowing that even if such a cooperation works, it may lessen the chance for them to retain the positions they currently hold," political analyst Rabi'ah Aminudin told Malaysiakini.
The cabinet cluster refers to Umno ministers who are in favour of retaining ties with Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional due to their present positions in the federal government.
Rabi'ah said even the moderates within Umno are unlikely to accept such cooperation as it would put the party in a non-dominant position.
"If Umno is in the same ship with PKR-Harapan, there might be 'bloody battles' as the grassroots level warlords fight for positions, or candidacies for the election," she added.
Political observer Tyra Hanim Razali, who is also a PKR member, concurred that those in Umno who lean towards a PKR-Harapan tie-up are in the minority.
Hence, convincing the majority in Umno to accept a proposal from PKR would require a considerable amount of political lubricant.


"Since there is talk that GE is around the corner, some warlords in Umno would want to exploit the resources of being in the government as perks to advance their position to win more seats and rebound from their catastrophe in the previous GE.
"Understanding how Umno operates, I do not think Zahid will be able to do that (convince the party to side with PKR) without giving away lucrative counter-offers to the 'cabinet cluster', at this point in time," Tyra said.
"However, the arrangement for this period and GE15 could be different altogether," she added.
Speculation that Zahid will side with Anwar has been on-going since the Port Dickson MP declared he had a strong and formidable majority in September last year.

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim
However, Zahid did not cross over then, and again did not side with Anwar in opposing Budget 2021 - much to the chagrin of the latter's allies in Pakatan Harapan.
On the flip side, both Rabi'ah and Tyra said it would be easier for PKR and Harapan to be in league with Umno if they can convince their supporters of a "common enemy" narrative.
"There is a probability that some votes will be compromised, but voters mostly act on sentiments. Previously on 1MDB, this time around the backdoor government and their failure to effectively govern through this pandemic," Tyra said.
One offer that might appeal to Umno, however, is to avoid three-corner fights in 25 Bersatu seats, which were originally won by either Umno or PKR.
PKR sources have given hints that this might be one objective of the PKR-Umno talks.
This arrangement could actually benefit Umno more than PKR in recapturing seats from defectors who joined Bersatu, as the ones PKR lost are mostly in pro-opposition urban areas.
"If Anwar manages to convince his coalition partners to give in, Umno might agree to this," Rabi'ah said.
Another possibility in which Umno could work together with PKR-Harapan is if there is no clear winner in the next general election.

DAP organising-secretary Anthony Loke
DAP organising-secretary Anthony Loke said that in such a scenario, new partnerships and coalitions could arise.
If this does happen, however, Rabi'ah is of the opinion that either Umno or Bersatu would be in the strongest position to form alliances.
"I don’t foresee a long-term partnership between Umno and PKR-Harapan as government.
"I still see the return of a Malay-dominant party - either Umno or Bersatu - in power, as people are pessimistic with Harapan's ability to govern and the fragility of political coalitions without a race-based party because Malaysian politics is still highly driven by ethnocentric politics.
"Which means the most likely political alignments would be with PAS, GPS, and other smaller parties like Gerakan, MIC, and MCA," Rabi'ah said.
She said independent MPs and other small parties would also likely align with the new government, giving it more power and stability.
However, Tyra - who believes Harapan can be in a better bargaining position if it contests more seats on its own - said any coalition formed before or after the polls would still be highly susceptible to party-hopping.
"Whatever the coalition formed pre- and post-election, even after the government has been formed, it won’t be sustainable without a party-hopping law, unless one coalition could form a two-thirds majority in Parliament, which could be more reason for them to table the bill to consolidate power," she said. - Mkini


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