Those within the immediate circle of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s camp are confident that their soon-to-be-announced political party will limit intra-opposition conflict but political experts think otherwise.
KUALA LUMPUR – August 8, 2016: The yet-to-be-named political party to be formed by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is not expected to strengthen the opposition.
That was the collective views of several political analysts who spoke to The Mole in light of the claim by Umno detractors that the party will be “Umno’s worst nightmare.”
Former News Straits Times group editor-in-chief Datuk Abdul Kadir Jasin blogged that the party was made to cater for Malays/Muslims in order to minimise potential conflict with existing opposition parties.
“It was partly their (opposition leaders’) wish that the former Umno leaders form a political party that takes on Umno but limit the possibility of a confict with other Malay/Muslim-based parties.
“While those who come from multi-racial parties, principally the PKR and DAP, would not like to see another multi-racial party vying for support and worse still, stealing their members,” Kadir wrote.
Theoretically, that may be so, but geostrategist of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Dr Azmi Hassan thinks that the inclusion of a party made mainly of Umno detractors into Pakatan Harapan (PH) will beget serious conflicts.
“With the current setup of PH, there are already some conflict between DAP and PKR, for example the Penang snap poll issue.
“During the Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar by-elections, even though it is very obvious that a three cornered contest is a no win situation for the opposition, they still cannot come to an agreement.
“Then with the new addition of Tun M’s (Dr Mahathir) party,” he explained, “It is going to be very difficult to choose only one opposition party to face Barisan Nasional (BN).”
Dr Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak echoed similar sentiment of the opposition inability, even with the addition of Dr Mahathir’s new party, to put forth a one-on-one electoral contest with BN in the next general election.
“If Pas remains outside of Pakatan Harapan, to have a one-on-one electoral contest with Barisan Nasional in the next general election is almost impossible.”
Contrary to Kadir’s views, Jeniri deemed that the new party will eventually do the opposite of limiting conflicts.
“Especially so since the Peninsular has already have so many parties catering for Muslim Malays,” Jeniri said.
“We have Pas, Amanah, and even PKR to boot, eventhough they claimed to be multiracial but in actuality they are leaning more towards the Malays.
“Also history had proven that most Umno splinter parties will not survive for long particularly if the party was founded with the sole purpose of toppling a sitting prime minister,” he stressed.
However, another analyst associate professor Mohd Azizudin Md Sani from Universiti Utara Malaysia cautioned that BN should not take such a political threat lightly.
“They got their strategy right,” he told The Mole, “The rural Malays who left Umno seldom join multiracial parties because most of them are under the impression that these parties will not fight for Malays and Islam.”
“And after Pas left Pakatan and lost half of its members to Amanah, the Islamist party is no longer a viable choice.
“Since Amanah, PKR and DAP generally do not fare well in Malay-majority rural constituencies, to have another party that mirrors Umno is something that BN should be wary off,” he stressed.
Despite bearing some similarity with Amanah in terms of having “more generals than soldiers”, Azizudin pointed out that unlike Amanah, the party is practically led by someone who has govern the country for 22 years (Dr Mahathir).
“Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (former deputy prime minister) may not be the ideal person to be the party’s president but unlike Amanah, he can bank on Dr Mahathir’s influence to rally support,” he said.