What does Umno really want?

This is not to say that Zahid wasn’t elected democratically as the president but so that Umno would not forever be the “sick man” of PN.

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Published in Malaysia Now, Malaysia Today, 1Media.my & Focus Malaysia, image by Malaysia Now.

Just as daily Covid-19 infection figures are showing a downward trend and the economy in general is beginning to show signs of recovery, Umno is at it again with its politicking that will only cause instability to the country.

One wonders what it is that Umno really wants.

It has made crystal clear its intention since Day 1 of supporting the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government helmed by Bersatu with Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister, based on the understanding to save Malaysia by forming a coalition government due to the failure of Pakatan Harapan (PH) – nothing more.

In the early days of the coalition, there was a buddy-buddy spirit between the two due to their success in disposing the PH government, hence the question of Bersatu joining the political pact Muafakat Nasional (MN), formed between Umno and PAS, along with the possibility of the three parties becoming members of PN in the spirit of Malay unity which were discussed and entertained in a very cordial manner.

There was even talk of seat negotiations among the three parties to face the 15th general election (GE15) to avoid multiple contests.

But things started to change after July 28 when former Umno president and former prime minister Najib Razak was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million for his crimes of corruption.

Two days later on July 30, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that the party would not be joining the PN coalition. “Umno has decided to not join PN,” Zahid said in a statement.

The party would instead strengthen the MN coalition together with PAS and Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties, according to the Umno president.

“Our support for the PN government is only based on support from Umno and BN MPs and assemblymen to form the federal government and certain state governments,” Zahid said.

What this basically meant was that while Umno had decided against officially joining the PN coalition, the party had not withdrawn its support for the PN government.

The move, while apparently conflicting, allowed Muhyiddin to remain as the eighth prime minister. This was consistent with Umno’s stance on Day 1 of the formation of the PN government. The only new thing was its resolve not to formally join PN.

The announcement came on the same day a snap election in Sabah was announced after then-chief minister Shafie Apdal dissolved the state assembly amid a political crisis.

In the lead-up to the Sabah election, Zahid pre-empted Muhyiddin by announcing that the party in the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) grand coalition led by Muhyiddin which won the most seats should have a say in deciding on the chief minister. He went on to nominate Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin for that position if Umno were to win the most seats.

This was like counting chickens before the eggs were hatched, and a snub to Muhyiddin as the leader of GRS. Not to mention the nomination of Bung Moktar itself had initially generated controversy among the Sabah Umno members. And matters like this are best discussed behind closed doors as some sort of election strategy.

In the end, Muhyiddin decided on the basis that the coalition in the grand coalition of GRS with the most seats should have the right to name the chief minister, and he did this only after the election results were known, unlike Zahid who brought it up in the heat of campaigning.

And so, Sabah Bersatu chairman Hajiji Mohd Noor was named as the new chief minister because the PN coalition in GRS obtained the most seats (17 compared to BN’s 14).

This did not stop Umno leaders later on from somehow alleging that Muhyiddin’s decision was an example of a small party (Bersatu) bullying a big party (Umno).

Thing took a turn for the worse when, at the height of the ongoing saga of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim dropping his bombshell in September that he had strong, formidable and convincing numbers to form the government, it was alleged that Umno leaders Najib and Zahid had written to the Istana of their support for Anwar as the new prime minister.

To this day, both Najib and Zahid have remained mum on the issue, while former BN secretary-general Annuar Musa has provided the evidence of it.

The plot thickened when, in December, an attempt by Umno to take over the Perak government which was helmed by Bersatu succeeded with the assistance of opposition members of the state assembly – DAP and PKR.

The funny thing about this takeover was that it was the result of a motion of confidence put forth by an Umno assemblyman for Bersatu menteri besar (MB) Ahmad Faizal Azumu, but when it came to voting time, the majority of Umno assemblymen voted against the MB.

Normally, when a motion of confidence is put up by a party, the party concerned is duty-bound to support the MB, unlike a motion of no confidence. So, who is bullying who? This is perhaps the reason why Zahid had to make a public apology to Muhyiddin and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang whose assemblymen had supported Faizal in the motion.

It was at this time that the possibility of Umno working with Anwar and DAP was mooted which later led to Annuar Musa saying this was against Umno’s known policy stance of “No Anwar, No DAP”.

More bad news came when two Umno MPs withdrew their support for PN in January, reducing the PN government’s majority to one, pouring scorn on Umno’s official intention since Day 1 to support the PN government.

If this is indeed Umno’s official stance, why was there no action taken against the two MPs?

Either this reflects a weak Umno under Zahid which can’t even discipline its own members or it has been the clear intention of Umno all along to pay lip service as part of the PN coalition government against PH until GE15.

Perhaps it is timely for the advice of former deputy prime minister and former deputy president of Umno, Musa Hitam, for Umno to put aside leaders with criminal charges in order for the party to move forward, to be taken seriously.

This is not to say that Zahid wasn’t elected democratically as the president but so that Umno would not forever be the “sick man” of PN.

Through it all, the response of Bersatu especially Muhyiddin, was exemplary in being measured. It was the same trademark response of Muhyiddin towards Dr Mahathir Mohamad during the Bersatu crisis when the latter insisted he was still the chairman of the party. He wished the former prime minister well and there was no recrimination in his response against the former leader who had used harsh words in criticising the PM.

Likewise, Bersatu’s recent response towards Zahid’s letter of cooperation with PN until GE15 was greeted by Muhyiddin in a gentlemanly manner.

At the beginning of the article, I posed the question of what is it that Umno really wants.

Some observers have posited that Umno is of one mind with the opposition, especially Anwar, in wanting to see Muhyiddin go, but it does not want to see Anwar as the new PM once Muhyiddin goes. And Umno at this moment is also clueless on who should be the new PM, hence its wavering on going all out in not supporting PN.

If this is indeed true, let’s hope Umno and the opposition can be more patient in seeing the country free from Covid-19 and the economy on the road to recovery before putting this scheme into action. Otherwise, the country will face instability, instability and instability and the people too will suffer, suffer and suffer.

Jamari Mohtar is director of media & communications at EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

Bahasa Malaysi

Diterbitkan di Malaysia Now & Putera Daily.

Di kala angka jangkitan harian Covid-19 menunjukkan trend menurun dan ekonomi secara amnya mula menunjukkan tanda-tanda pemulihan, Umno kembali semula berpolitik (politicking) yang hanya akan menyebabkan ketidakstabilan negara.

Ini menimbulkan persoalan mengenai apa sebenarnya yang Umno mahukan.

Ia telah melahirkan niatnya dengan jelas sejak hari pertama menyokong kerajaan Perikatan Nasional (PN) pimpinan Bersatu dengan Muhyiddin Yassin sebagai perdana menteri berdasarkan pemahaman untuk menyelamatkan Malaysia dengan membentuk kerajaan campuran kerana kegagalan Pakatan Harapan (PH), dan tidak lebih dari itu.

Pada peringkat awal, setiakawan dan keakraban antara keduanya begitu menyerlah kerana kejayaan menjatuhkan kerajaan PH. Maka itu, persoalan Bersatu bergabung dalam pakatan politik Muafakat Nasional (MN) yang dibentuk antara Umno dengan PAS, bersama dengan kemungkinan ketiga-tiga parti itu menjadi anggota PN atas semangat perpaduan Melayu telah dibincangkan dan dilayan secara mesra.

Malah, terdapat perbincangan mengenai rundingan kerusi di antara ketiga-tiga parti itu untuk menghadapi Pilihan Raya Umum ke-15 (PRU15) untuk mengelakkan pertandingan pelbagai penjuru.

Namun, keadaan mula berubah selepas 28 Julai ketika bekas presiden Umno dan bekas perdana menteri, Najib Razak dijatuhi hukuman 12 tahun penjara dan denda RM210 juta kerana jenayah rasuah.

Dua hari kemudian pada 30 Julai, Presiden Umno Ahmad Zahid Hamidi mengumumkan parti itu secara rasmi tidak akan menyertai PN. Parti itu sebaliknya akan mengukuhkan gabungan MN bersama PAS dan parti komponen Barisan Nasional (BN), menurut presiden Umno itu.

“Sokongan kami kepada kerajaan PN hanya berdasarkan sokongan ahli Parlimen (MP) dan Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) Umno dan BN untuk membentuk kerajaan persekutuan dan kerajaan negeri tertentu,” kata Zahid.

Langkah yang nampaknya bertentangan itu membolehkan Muhyiddin kekal sebagai Perdana Menteri kelapan. Ini konsisten dengan pendirian Umno sejak hari pertama pembentukan kerajaan PN, dengan satu-satunya perkara baru adalah tekad Umno untuk tidak menyertai PN secara rasmi.

Sementara itu, menjelang pilihan raya Sabah, Zahid memintas Muhyiddin dengan mengumumkan mana-mana parti dalam gabungan besar Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) pimpinan Muhyiddin yang memenangi kerusi terbanyak harus mempunyai suara dalam menentukan ketua menteri, lantas mencalonkan Ketua Umno Sabah, Bung Moktar Radin untuk jawatan itu sekiranya Umno memenangi kerusi terbanyak.

Ini bagaikan menghitung anak ayam sebelum telur menetas, dan memperlekehkan Muhyiddin sebagai pemimpin GRS, apatah lagi pencalonan Bung Moktar sendiri pada awalnya telah mencetuskan kontroversi di kalangan anggota Umno Sabah. Perkara seperti ini sebaiknya dibincangkan secara tertutup sebagai strategi pilihan raya.

Muhyiddin akhirnya memutuskan gabungan dalam GRS yang memenangi kerusi terbanyak harus mempunyai hak untuk menamakan ketua menteri, dan beliau berkata demikian hanya setelah keputusan pilihan raya diketahui, tidak seperti Zahid yang membawa isu itu semasa berkempen.

Lantaran itulah, pengerusi Bersatu Sabah, Hajiji Mohd Noor dinobatkan sebagai ketua menteri baru kerana gabungan PN dalam GRS memperoleh kerusi terbanyak (17) berbanding 14 yang dimenangi BN.

Ini tidak pula menghalang pemimpin Umno kemudian membuat dakwaan keputusan Muhyiddin adalah contoh parti kecil (Bersatu) membuli parti besar (Umno).

Masalah menjadi lebih buruk ketika pemimpin pembangkang, Anwar Ibrahim, mendedahkan pada September kononnya beliau mempunyai bilangan ahli Parlimen yang kuat, kukuh dan meyakinkan untuk membentuk kerajaan baru, dua pemimpin kanan Umno – Najib dan Zahid – telah menulis kepada pihak Istana Negara sokongan mereka kepada Anwar sebagai perdana menteri baru.

Sehingga hari ini, kedua-dua mereka masih membisu dalam isu ini, manakala bekas setiausaha agung BN, Annuar Musa telah memberikan bukti mengenai perkara itu.

Pada Disember pula, usaha Umno untuk menjatuhkan kerajaan negeri Perak pimpinan Bersatu berhasil dengan bantuan pembangkang dari DAP dan PKR. Apa yang melucukan ialah perisitwa itu berlaku hasil satu usul undi yakin kepada menteri besar Perak ketika itu, Ahmad Faizal Azumu, yang diketengahkan Umno. Namun saat mengundi, majoriti Adun Umno mengundi tidak yakin terhadap MB.

Biasanya, apabila sesebuah parti membawa usul yakin, ia mempunyai tanggungjawab menyokong MB, berbeza dengan usul tidak yakin. Jadi, siapa yang membuli siapa? Ini mungkin sebabnya Zahid terpaksa memohon maaf secara terbuka kepada Muhyiddin dan Presiden PAS, Abdul Hadi Awang yang semua Adunnya menyokong Faizal dalam usul tersebut.

Dalam keadaan tidak menentu mengenai pembentukan kerajaan negeri Perak yang baru, kemungkinan Umno bekerjasama dengan Anwar dan DAP mula disuarakan, yang kemudian menyebabkan Annuar Musa mengatakan ia bertentangan dengan dasar sohor Umno “Tidak Anwar, Tidak DAP”.

Lebih banyak berita buruk menyusul apabila dua MP Umno menarik sokongan dari PN pada Januari, mengurangkan majoriti kerajaan PN kepada hanya satu – tindakan yang bertentangan dengan niat rasmi Umno sejak hari pertama untuk menyokong kerajaan PN.

Maka itu agak pelik tiada tindakan disiplin dikenakan ke atas dua MP tersebut kerana ia sama ada mencerminkan keadaan Umno yang lemah di bawah Zahid yang tidak dapat mendisiplinkan ahlinya sendiri atau niat jelas Umno selama ini untuk tidak menyokong kerajaan PN berdepan dengan PH sebelum PRU 15.

Mungkin, tepat pada masanya, nasihat bekas timbalan perdana menteri dan bekas timbalan presiden Umno, Musa Hitam diberi perhatian serius berhubung dengan Umno mengetepikan para pemimpinnya yang terbabit dengan tuduhan rasuah demi memastikan parti itu bergerak maju di masa mendatang.

Ini tidak bermakna Zahid tidak dipilih secara demokratik sebagai presiden tetapi supaya Umno tidak akan menjadi “orang sakit” PN selamanya.

Sementara itu, dalam menghadapi semua cabaran, Bersatu terutama Muhyiddin telah menunjukkan sikap yang tenang dan berpatutan, mirip respons yang ditunjukkan Muhyiddin terhadap Dr Mahathir semasa krisis Bersatu ketika mantan PM itu masih berkeras menganggap dirinya masih menjadi ketua parti itu.

Muhyiddin telah mendoakan yang terbaik untuk mantan PM setelah menyatakan pendiriannya dengan sopan walaupun Dr Mahathir telah menggunakan kata-kata kasar dalam mengkritik beliau.

Begitu juga dengan surat Zahid mengenai kerjasama dengan PN sehingga PRU15 disambut Muhyiddin dengan menerima penjelasan Zahid sambil berkata Bersatu akan berusaha gigih untuk memantapkan kerjasama dengan parti lain dalam gabungan PN.

Pada awal artikel, saya mengemukakan soalan apa yang sebenarnya Umno mahu. Sebilangan pemerhati berpendapat Umno dan pembangkang terutama Anwar mahu melihat Muhyiddin berundur, tetapi Umno tidak mahu melihat Anwar sebagai PM baru. Dan Umno ketika ini juga tidak tahu siapa yang harus menjadi PM baru, lantas pendiriannya yang goyah untuk sama sekali tidak menyokong PN.

Sekiranya ini benar, mari kita berharap Umno dan pembangkang lebih sabar untuk menunggu negara bebas dari Covid-19 dan ekonomi menuju ke arah pemulihan sebelum melaksanakan skim ini. Jika tidak, negara akan menghadapi ketidakstabilan, ketidakstabilan dan ketidakstabilan dan rakyat juga akan menderita, menderita dan menderita.

Jamari Mohtar adalah Pengarah, Media & Komunikasi di EMIR Research, sebuah organisasi pemikir bebas yang berfokuskan kepada pencernaan saranan-saranan dasar strategik berteraskan penyelidikan yang terperinci, konsisten dan menyeluruh.

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