PETALING JAYA,Dec 4: Two political analysts have dismissed the possibility of PPBM’s reabsorption into Umno at any time in the foreseeable future.
James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute and former Universiti Teknologi Malaysia lecturer Azmi Hassan told FMT a major factor preventing such a merger was competition for party posts.
They were commenting on Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki’s call for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and all PPBM members to return to Umno to unite the Malays.
Chin said the merger might be possible if Umno was willing to give the president’s post to Muhyiddin. “And right now, it’s not willing to do that.”
He agreed with Asyraf that the two parties had no ideological differences, but said the practical matter of party positions was important enough to both sides to ensure that no merger would happen anytime soon.
“If they combine, who’s going to be the party president, who’s going to be the deputy president and what are they going to do about the divisional chiefs?” he said.
Azmi said PPBM had no reason to rejoin Umno as its members were “quite comfortable” with the current situation in the Perikatan Nasional government, with Muhyiddin in the driver’s seat.
“Why return to Umno and contend with competition from those who chose to stay put with Umno?” he said.
He also said the “traitor” label would stick with Muhyiddin and his followers if they returned to their former party.
Nonetheless, he said, it would be a boon for the Malay community if the merger were to happen since they would have a formidable Malay party to root for in a general election.
“It will no doubt unite the Malays,” he said.
Chin said the Malays had shown in the past that they were capable of uniting when faced with a common enemy or threats from non-Malays.
“Now you have a government where you have three Malay-Muslim parties,” he said. “So they don’t feel any threat from the non-Malays. That’s why they’re fighting among themselves.”
Asyraf’s call came in his Sinar Harian column earlier this week. “History has shown how several splinter parties from Umno eventually returned to the biggest Malay party,” he said, referring to the Independence of Malaya Party, Parti Negara and Parti Melayu Semangat 46.
PPBM Supreme Council member Muhammad Faiz Na’aman ruled out the possibility of his party following suit, claiming that the Malays wanted to have their options open.
“There is no necessity for any Malay-Muslim based political party in this country, let alone PPBM, to merge with Umno and be under just one all-powerful party leader,” he told FMT.