Analysts don’t think Najib really needs peace with critics


Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – Dec 15, 2015: A closed-door “peace-treaty” meeting should be arranged between quarrelling factions in Umno to end the ongoing infighting.

Several political analysts who talked to The Mole said such a meeting was crucial if the crisis is to ends immediately.

Nonetheless, they also felt that  Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak could actually afford to simply ignore the dissenters and still lead Barisan Nasional to victory in the next general election.

Professor Datuk Dr Zainal Kling of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) said it was timely for dissident members and leaders in Umno to stop spouting political rhetoric and close rank with the others in the party.

He stressed that since Najib has decided to magnanimously extended the olive branch to them, it was “high-time” for the rebels to re-evaluate their outlook.

“I believed that it is time for the so-called Umno rebels to meet those who they oppose eye-to-eye and discuss about the prerequisites for a peace treaty.

“Such a meeting should be a closed door meeting in which Najib himself must attend along with leaders of the rebel factions like his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin,” he said.

Although Zainal said that such a meeting should be initiated by Najib, another analyst deemed that the “ball is now on Muhyiddin’s feet.”

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia geostrategist Dr Azmi Hassan was of the opinion that the moment Najib extended his peace-offering, any follow-ups must be initiated by the rebels’ camp, in extension by Muhyiddin.

“The olive branch was offered not once but twice during the assembly and the response from the other side is very disappointing.

“Now, it all depends on what is Muhyddin’s next move before Najib can decided for the best course of action in dealing with the internal crisis.

“However, taking cue from the atmosphere at the party’s assembly, it is unlikely that the internal crisis will be resolved in the near future.

“Even though all three vocal critics of Najib attended the assembly, their body language and statements clearly indicates that there is no turning back for the three of them (Muhyiddin, Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and former president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad),” he said.

In response to concerns on the electoral performance of Barisan Nasional (BN) if the power struggle persist until the next general election, both Azmi and Zainal concurred that the damage such crisis may cause is small.

Azmi also said that in light of the recent massive support that Umno members have shown towards Najib, it is very unlikely that the dissenters can garner support from existing division to oppose Najib.

“It appears that Muhyiddin and Shafie’s current influence in Umno is very minute so it is going to be an uphill battle for them to oust Najib via any means including the party polls that will be held in 2018.

“That means, it is safe to assume that they will only cause an insignificant damage to BN’s in the next general election,” he told The Mole.

Zainal was of the opinion that the people should not be too worried over Umno’s internal rebellion as the crisis has been greatly exaggerated.

“The severity of the crisis has been blown out of proportion. Things are not as bleak as it seems.

“It is evident that Najib still has the confidence of majority members when they had unanimously gave him a standing ovation when he decided to extend the olive branch to the rebels during his wind-up speech at the assembly.

“Although the cracks within Umno are not fully healed yet but it is not as acute as the 1987 Team A vs Team B fractional wars,” said Zainal.

Meanwhile, another analyst Professor Dr Hoo Ke Ping insisted Najib does not actually need any peace treaty in order to overcome the party’s internal rebellion.

He implied that the peace offering was just a formality and that Najib can easily boost BN’s chances in winning the next general election by striking a deal with Pas.

“In fact, Najib and Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had convened a meeting yesterday in Cairo to finalise the matter.

“It does not matter what kind of formula they use, be it Pas in BN or Pas with BN, the people will get the message that such a cooperation is not just for political survival but also for future unification and consolidation of a Muslim-led government.

“Right now, Umno needs Pas so that they can win the next general election and Pas need Umno so that they can have a chance in implementing hudud in Kelantan,” Hoo explained.

He reasoned that in order to implement hudud in Kelantan, Pas must have the backing of 112 parliamentary members and assuming that all Pas and Umno MPs decided to vote for hudud, they will still be short of 10 votes.

In light of this, Ke Ping said that Pas can easily secure at least 8 additional parliamentary seats of the party cooperates with Umno because a three-corner fight will not ensue in the next general election.

“With the Umno-Pas cooperation the only real contender in a Malay majority rural seats is the Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) this is because PKR can only win urban seats that has a lot of Chinese.

“So it does not matter how people feels but once the election starts you will only have either ‘Pas vs Amanah’ or ‘Umno vs Amanah’,” he stressed.

Hoo also added that the Umno-Pas cooperation is also advantageous for BN’s non-Muslim component parties, particularly MCA.

He said that Chinese voters who voted for the opposition were “arrogant” in the 2013 general election because they believed that they could cause the defeat of BN.

“More than 80 per cent of Chinese voters in the Peninsular voted against BN in the 2013 general election…they were arrogant because they think they can beat Umno, a Malay Muslim-led government.

“However, unlike 2013 when the economy was doing quite well as compared to today’s economy, the Chinese voters today have definitely felt the pinch.

“In 2013 they were happy and they can afford to take risks but that perception has changed in the last eight months because their businesses have been very badly affected so they need both economic and political stability.

“So when Umno-Pas cooperate, by then Chinese voters would already know that there is not hope to beat BN…so if MCA can exploit such a situation then they can easily win between seven and 10 more parliamentary seats.

“I am sure of this because back in 1986, the split in Umno was way worse but the Chinese back then still voted for BN. Why? Because the Chinese needed political stability to ensure a stable economy,” said Hoo.



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]