PETALING JAYA, Oct 15: Umno’s decision to review its support for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government has prompted a political analyst to hazard a guess that it is using Anwar Ibrahim’s claim of majority support in Parliament to pressure for a better deal from PPBM.
Azmi Hassan, formerly of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, told FMT he believed Umno was no longer willing to be “played out” by PPBM and that Anwar’s claim had acted as catalyst for it to demand new terms for its support of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration.
It was now trying to stamp its dominance in the PN-led government, he said.
On Tuesday, Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said the party was considering retracting its support for PN.
Ahmad, who spoke after an Umno political bureau meeting, said the party would propose new terms to Muhyiddin to ensure the political cooperation would continue.
Azmi said Muhyiddin might not have a choice but to accede to Umno’s demands.
Umno, which has a substantial number of MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, has not disclosed its demands to the public.
“But Umno too needs to be cautious with its demands,” Azmi said. “It cannot be seen as being unreasonable.”
Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya said Umno had to act decisively after the Sabah election, in which it gave “too much leeway” to PPBM in terms of the division of seats and posts in the state cabinet.
Otherwise, he said, the party would risk being perceived as weak.
“Umno needs to cut ties with Perikatan Nasional so it does not lose out in seat negotiations in the coming general election. It holds the most seats and it should be in a better position where the partnership with PPBM and PAS is concerned.”
Awang Azman also said PN needed to agree to Umno’s demands quickly because failure to do so could cause the ruling coalition to collapse.
He said the “minority voices” in Umno that had been supporting Muhyiddin and his administration could no longer do so.
“If they go against the grain, they will either be dropped in the next election or they will be asked by the grassroots to leave because the party has set the tone moving forward.”