Umno-PPBM merger unlikely, say analysts

PETALING JAYA: Two political analysts have dismissed the possibility of an Umno and PPBM merger in the near future despite the similarity of their political agendas.

Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said a reunion of Umno with the party that splintered from it was not likely because it would call for compromises over party positions.

Azmi said the leaders of the two parties, from the grassroots to the highest levels, would have to give way to one another.

“It will be difficult for Umno division leaders, for example, to share power with those in PPBM since they have endured political hardship after Barisan Nasional lost in the 14th general election.

“They will now need to share power with, and in some cases, even make way for, former Umno leaders who had abandoned ship.”

Umno vice-president Khaled Nordin recently said in a media statement that the party had never closed its doors to any wish that PPBM might have for a reconnection.

Azmi said an alliance like the one Umno has with PAS would be more workable than a merger.

If a merger were to happen, he added, PPBM would be at the losing end because the grassroots would be more inclined towards Umno leaders.

He said Muhyiddin Yassin would likely become Umno president as he is prime minister though surviving would be a different question altogether since there are a number of people in Umno who qualify as prime minister material.

“So I just don’t see it happening. After a merger, there would be fights over party positions and seat allocations, from the top to the bottom.”

Chin said Muhyiddin would want to keep his focus on consolidating his position as prime minister.

“PPBM leaders will be the big losers of a merger as their party is smaller than either Umno or PAS and its machinery and grassroots are weaker,” he said.

“The top PPBM leaders would not want a merger as their positions in a merged party would be at risk. So they are likely to fight merger talks for now. In the future, this might change.”

But he said some PPBM MPs might like the idea of a merger if they could seek re-election to their seats because competing with Umno and PAS in the next general election could see them wiped out.

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