KUALA LUMPUR – June 30, 2015: The postponement of Umno election is a strategic move to regroup and whip the party into shape before going for the next general election (GE), say political analysts.
They agreed that deferring the party polls which was scheduled to take place next year for 18 months due to the GE was a good move.
The analysts however could not get on the same page whether the postponement would slow down the rebels in the party from campaigning against party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak senior lecturer Dr Jeniri Amir said that the deferral would surely result in the anti-Najib taking its vitriol against the prime minister down a notch.
“These rebels realise that they could be dropped off the list of candidates for the next GE and they would now be mindful of what they are saying.
“Nevertheless, I do not expect the same effect from the outsiders that includes Najib’s fiercest critic to date, elder statesman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” he said.
Jeniri told The Mole that the postponement is to give the party the space to strategise prior to the GE, as holding a party election could potentially cause further friction among party members.
When asked about the odds of Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) coming out victorious in the next GE, Jeniri foresaw a positive outlook.
“BN would continue its reign over the nation as long as it has full support in Sabah and Sarawak, which is a sure support,” he said.
Another analyst, Associate Professor Samsul Adabi Mamat of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia however did not see the anti-Najib camp in Umno stopping its campaign against the prime minister anytime soon.
“They would continue their protest against Najib despite the party election being put on hold.
“Their demand is for Najib to step down and resign from his post as prime minister, which has nothing to do with the election.
“Party election is not the only platform for these rebels to demand Najib to throw in the towel,” he said, recapping Najib’s predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s power shift in 2009 that was done out of the party election.
Samsul however admitted that the deferral of the party election was a crucial move to strengthen the party and prepare its machineries to brace for the next GE.
“Despite the critical issues that are weighing down the party and BN including Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the alleged mismanagement of government-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the chances for Umno and BN to sweep the next GE to victory are still there.
“BN still stands a 50 per cent chance of retaining power in the country as the opposition Pakatan Rakyat is not doing too good either.
“Both blocs are facing problems of their own and it balances out their chances,” he added.
Universiti Utara Malaysia senior lecturer Associate Professor Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani on the other hand downplayed the rebellion within Umno saying the they are not really a threat.
“The pressure within Umno is not as strong as from the outside. This is just Najib’s way to avoid division in the party and to focus more on national issues.
“If the party election is held next year and the result causes a division in the party, it would be impossible for Umno to recover in time for the GE,” he said.