Umno no longer a major force in politics? Rubbish, say analysts

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PETALING JAYA: Political analysts have dismissed a PPBM leader’s remark that Umno is no longer a major force in politics.

Universiti Malaya socio-political analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi said though there might be divisions within Umno’s leadership, the party was far from weak as it had the backing of the grassroots.

He was commenting on PPBM Youth chief Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal’s remark that the era when Umno was dominant was over and that the current political scenario demanded that all parties work together.

Awang Azman said despite facing many challenges after the fall of the Barisan Nasional-led government in 2018, Umno had not crumbled. It had even grown stronger, he said.

Awang Azman Awang Pawi.

“To date, I have not heard of a single Umno branch dissolving. Its strength is deeply rooted in its grassroots.”

On the other hand, he said, PPBM’s strength and influence hinged on executive power and this was something that could change should Parliament be dissolved.

“In fact, in my view, in the coming elections, the two dominant forces will be Umno-BN and Pakatan Harapan. The main fight will be between these two parties.”

Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, also said he did not believe Umno’s era as a dominant force was over.

Oh Ei Sun.

“Umno is still perceived by many Malays as the defender of the community’s rights and interests,” he said, adding he did not see this changing now or in the future.

He said in the coming general election, the Malay support would be enjoyed by Umno and PAS, and that PPBM would struggle as most of the support it enjoyed in the last general election came from Pakatan Harapan supporters.

“This time around, they won’t be voting PPBM,” he said.

Azmi Hassan.

Former Universiti Teknologi Malaysia lecturer Azmi Hassan said it was strange for Wan Fayhsal to think that Umno was not dominant.

“If that was the case, why would PPBM want to work with Umno? I don’t think Umno’s era of dominance is over.”

Azmi believes Umno is now in a stronger position than it was before GE14 because of PH’s “dismal performance” in its 22 months in power.

“And Perikatan Nasional isn’t performing too well either, so many would see Umno as being better compared with PH and PN.”

He said the only challenger to Umno where Malay voters were concerned was PAS, and even then, this was limited to Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah.

“I think PAS will come to its senses and avoid colliding with Umno during the election,” he said.

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