PETALING JAYA,Dec 7: Umno leaders exploring ways to form a new Perak state government have broached the possibility of new political alliances, but political analysts say such partnerships could only be temporary and not last.
Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said the chances of a coalition between Umno and component parties of Pakatan Harapan appeared to be increasingly likely as no single party has a majority in the state assembly.
He said an Umno-PH combination “would certainly be stronger for the moment than the just-toppled Perak government, as it commands more seats”. However, such a coalition would only be temporary, because of the significant difference in ideology between the parties.
Umno, with 25 seats, is the largest party in the 59-member Perak assembly. Pakatan Harapan commands 24 seats, through the DAP (16), Amanah (5) and PKR (3).
However retired lecturer Azmi Hassan said cooperation between Umno and DAP was unlikely to materialise, even if it was only limited to Perak.
“If it does happen, no doubt it will be a stable state government by virtue of having a formidable majority. But I think it’s going to be awkward and not sustainable,” he said.
Azmi said Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s speculative remarks about working with the opposition were probably about PKR and Amanah.
“DAP is taboo to Umno’s grassroots”, he said, and Umno (being part of Perikatan Nasional) would also want to ensure DAP did not become part of the federal government.
However, Oh said “nowadays any sort of political permutation and combination is possible, provided the political interests are aligned and distributed satisfactorily at the moment a coalition government is formed.
Another analyst, Syed Arabi Idid of the International Islamic University of Malaysia, said that although Umno must form a coalition with majority support, the DAP could not be part of the equation.
On the other hand, if PKR and Amanah decided to work together with Umno, ties in the PH coalition would be strained. Conversely, Umno’s BN partner MCA “would feel betrayed” if DAP were to be a part of the new government.
James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said a DAP-Umno alliance was highly impossible as the Chinese community would not accept it. Chin said Zahid could not speak on behalf of Umno, despite being president, as he did not have full control over all the party’s factions.