THE Unity Government risks losing more political support if Umno does not change, says an analyst.
Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Ahmad Fauzi Hamid said Umno’s poor performance at the ballot box was “unsurprising”, and the party must do some soul-searching.
“Umno needs to change its leadership at the top level. Its president, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, should step down as leader and deputy prime minister until he has been cleared of his court charges, or it will be pushed further into insignificance in national politics.
“Additionally, it will also not be able to get the unity government the Malay vote which it sorely needs,” he said.
In addition to seizing the bulk of the seats in Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah, Perikatan Nasional managed to make inroads into Malay-majority seats in Penang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.
Although Pakatan Harapan dominated in the three states it retained, its ally, Barisan Nasional, of which Umno is a member, failed to prevail, even in areas where it had been traditionally dominant.
Fauzi said PH is set to lose more Malay support to the opposition at the expense of its unity government partners, further weakening Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s influence on policy decisions.
“The risk is that he (Anwar) would further alienate Umno grassroots supporters who have transferred their votes to PN during these state elections,” he said.
Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara said the election results have essentially maintained the status quo, with PH-BN retaining Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan, and PN continuing its dominance in Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah.
“PH-BN retained Penang and Negeri Sembilan with a two-thirds majority, and Selangor with a simple majority. This is critical because PN cannot claim that they won the state elections or that the people are dissatisfied with the federal government,” Azmi said.
However, he said, Umno’s poor performance was indicative of “big problems”, and that more Malay voters had shifted allegiance away from the party.
Azmi said an Umno bereft of Malay support leaves PH in a very difficult position.
“I think the problem with Umno is beyond the control of Prime Minister Anwar. It is all dependent on party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and the members of Umno,” he said.
“They need to do something, to say out loud that there is a problem.” – FMT