Of splitting Umno and Dr Mahathir’s waning grassroots support

KUALA LUMPUR – March 8, 2016: Political analysts are so far in concurrence that the newly established “alliance” forged by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad with his previous “political foes” will cause split within Umno.

The “alliance”, which includes leaders of the oppositions and civil society, had established the Citizens’ Declaration last week, which called for the removal of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and institutional reforms.

The move to oust Najib had received a mixture of strong reactions from leaders of the ruling government Barisan Nasional (BN), Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Pas.

Local analysts contacted by The Mole said that while the majority of Umno leaders and grassroots appeared to pledge full support towards Najib, there will still be scores of members who would support the Dr Mahathir’s spearheaded declaration.

Associate Professor Dr Mohd Azizudin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) when contacted said that Dr Mahathir still have a huge influence among Umno members, which made it easier for him to gain traction to go against Najib.

Azizudin said that currently, Umno members have appeared to be divided into factions, making it easier for the former prime minister to pressure the grassroots.

The analyst added that all in all, although majority of the grassroots would disagree with Dr Mahathir’s move to collaborate with opposition leaders, it would still depends on the degree of his influence among party members.

Azizudin, however, has yet to discern whether the declaration will really have a significant impact, as he believes that the alliance against Najib’s leadership still needs more time to work on their objective.

Geo-strategist Dr Azmi Hassan of Perdana School and Geospatial Institute anticipated that it would be harder for the party grassroots to accept the fact that Dr Mahathir is willing to work hand-in-hand with DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang.

The analyst said, this is due to the utmost difference of ideology between DAP and Umno.

“Umno grassroots will probably accept the alliance made with oppositions, particularly with Pas or PKR.

“But to see Dr Mahathir, Umno’s former president standing beside DAP leaders would be unacceptable. It is beyond their common sense,” he added.

Azmi added, it would remain difficult for the former prime minister to convince both the older members and general population of Umno, regardless of any reason Dr Mahathir would give.

The analyst said, as many had corroborated that the move taken by Dr Mahathir is undemocratic in nature, the grassroots would highly implored for the issue to be resolved according to Umno’s existing procedure.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir’s latest “alliance” with almost all of his former nemesis confounded a lot of Kedahan, including those known to be his staunch supporters.

The disappointment was even more so when he appeared to have formed some sort of kinship with Kit Siang, known by many as his “mortal enemy.”

In terms of the rakyat’s support, Kedah has always been Dr Mahathir’s fortress and it was evidently so when scores of the locals vigourously protested the recent ouster of his son, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir from the Menteri Besar post.

But now, many were dismayed especially the elders in the ‘kampong’ (village).

Some who talked to The Mole pointed out that they felt as if Dr Mahathir had betrayed them after watching him working together with Kit Siang.

“I don’t see why Che Det (Dr Mahathir) needs to ‘berkawan’ (befriend) with Kit Siang,” said Mariah Hassan, a 67 years old housewife from Pendang.

“How could he? Some of them are new-generation communists,” said Mariah whose father was killed by members of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) during the Communist Insurgency War.

Another elder and a strong supporter of Dr Mahathir, Osman Idris, 57, echoed similar disappointment with how the local politics were unfolding, and pointed out that things have become too “twisted”, that he was no longer certain of whom to side with.

“I supported him when Umno attacked him and tried to remove his son who is our MB.

“But now, I don’t think I can do the same (supporting Dr Mahathir). As I recalled, we have always been against DAP and now Che Det expect us to work with DAP?

“This is mad. Voting in the next general election may be harder than I think it will be… I just hope I won’t die of heart attack because of the stress,” said the Pendang-born paddy farmer.

Additional reporting by Zaidi Azmi.



About the author

Amira Nutfah Zulkifli

Amira Nutfah Zulkifli

A budding journalist. Aside of struggling to understand Malaysian political scenario, she is inspired to study and fight for women's emancipation. Above the rest; she simply loves her nation.