Political power but at what cost?
COVID-19 infections are steadily growing but that does not seem to quell Umno’s appetite for a fight – and with those on the same side too.
The party’s elected representatives seem to be in two minds with some backing tacitly the prime minister, while increasing numbers of lone voices seem to chime in dissatisfied unison, a growing demand for change.
Umno’s changing position on politicking during a pandemic seems rather hypocritical, to say the least.
First of all, the collapse of the democratically elected Pakatan Harapan government would not be remotely possible without the support of Umno, which formed the bulk of support behind the new Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
The final state in this political domino, Sabah’s Warisan retaliated by dissolving the state assembly, triggering state elections. This was then roundly criticised as being insensitive to the spreading epidemic, which at that point was at three figures daily.
Fast forward to the present day, and we see Umno MPs declare withdrawals of support of the government their party is a member of.
Effectively, the government has lost its legitimacy as they have lost their majority by now, fortunately the opposition have either elected not to, or have been disunited to the point they are unable to, take advantage of this.
Either way, excessive politicking is the last thing we need now.
The daily number of infections now is at four figures daily, projected to top 8,000 per day by May.
Ironically, the same Umno that heavily criticised the previous government for being unable to control two-digit infections as a failure, has been conspicuously silent about this “failure”.
Even worse, some leaders from the same party who partially justified their move in 2019, to protect the rakyat from the pandemic, are now calling for general elections to be held as soon as possible, despite the third wave being caused, in no small part, from the Sabah elections.
On Monday evening, the prime minister announced a second lockdown-style MCO for critical states.
It isn’t yet clear how Umno will react to this or if this would silence calls for Umno’s role in the government to be increased or even their calls for the general elections to be held soon.
Umno has quite openly manifested their unhappiness with the present government arrangements for a few months now. All save two of the 191 party divisions roundly snubbed any cooperation with PPBM for the next General elections.
In Perak, the Bersatu menteri besar was removed with Umno cooperating with its mortal enemy, DAP, to unseat a leader from its own alliance.
Negotiations for seats too, seem cold, with Umno in most states, especially Johor and Selangor, denying Bersatu is needed for their alliance, some preferring to work with PAS, and some even egging Umno to go at it alone.
Umno has also replaced its secretary-general with one who is known to be more aligned to present party grassroots sentiment, who indicated the party wished for certain court cases to be dropped to repair frayed ties.
There were reports of an appointment of an Umno senior minister, Hishammuddin Hussein or Ismail Sabri, Yaakob, to the post of DPM but this was denied by the PMO.
Perikatan Nasional’s top leadership, however, has tried to put on a united, brave front, cementing their presidential council, and forming a Selangor elections team, even as Umno has largely indicated they did not want to go into the elections with Bersatu.
The next few weeks are critical to our pandemic situation and our economy. Personal and party ambition should take a back seat for now.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT