PETALING JAYA,Jan 4: A recent announcement that Muafakat Nasional (MN) will not seek registration as a political organisation should come as no surprise to observers who know the workings of the Umno psyche, according to a political analyst.
James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute told FMT he believed Umno had never intended to formalise its alliance with PAS as a political entity because that would weaken Barisan Nasional (BN), which it dominates and in which it is now the only Malay party.
He said Umno obviously believed that BN was still the best formula for Malaysia’s future.
“So, Umno wants to keep BN going and it will do its best to make sure that there are no other alliances capable of challenging it in the long term,” Chin said.
BN secretary-general Annuar Musa recently disclosed that MN’s steering committee had decided against registering the alliance as a political organisation, preferring to let it remain as a group that would work to unite Malaysia’s Muslims.
Azmi Hassan, formerly of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, said MN could remain as a backup plan for PAS in case its partnership with PPBM in Perikatan Nasional (PN) did not work out.
He said PN was slightly stronger than MN because it had more parties in it.
But he told FMT he found it puzzling that PAS preferred PN to MN, which should give it a stronger position and would ease its seat negotiations with Umno, its real competitor.
“With Umno outside of PN, it’s going to be more difficult for PAS to negotiate for seats if there’s a situation where Umno is interested in contesting in PAS areas,” he said.
“It perplexes me that PAS chose PN. Maybe PAS is thinking about PPBM’s control of the government, but this reasoning can’t be applied in the GE15 scenario.”
Chin said it was too early to tell if the 15th general election would see a three-way fight among BN, PN and Pakatan Harapan, but he predicted that the contentious issue of seat distribution among Umno, PPBM and PAS would be resolved before the polls.
He described Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin as a careful politician who would be aware that failing to resolve the issue of seat distribution would threaten his future.
Azmi said he believed there would be a consensus on seat allocation, at least between PPBM and Umno.
“I concur with Annuar’s assertion that Umno and BN cannot go it alone to face GE15,” he added.