Melaka a testing ground for Umno-Bersatu fight, say analysts

PETALING JAYA: If state assembly elections are called in Melaka, the battle will be a litmus test for when Umno and Bersatu square off at the next general election, say two political analysts.

James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said the only way out of the political crisis in the state was for state elections to be held – at which the lines between Umno and Bersatu would be drawn.

“If it is a free-for-all, the people will review the (Umno versus Bersatu) results and strategise for the next general election,” Chin told FMT.

Speculation about elections in Melaka arose when four state assemblymen said yesterday they had retracted their support for chief minister Sulaiman Md Ali

The four included Umno Sungai Udang assemblyman Idris Haron, a former chief minister, who declared that the state government had collapsed.

Chin said he doesn’t see the prospect of any seat negotiations between the two parties. There might be a free-for-all for Malay-majority seats, which he added, would be a “good thing”.

Umno and Bersatu have been at odds even before the fall of the previous Perikatan Nasional government. Umno has said it would not work with Bersatu at the next elections.

Academic Azmi Hassan said Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was looking at the “bigger picture” when he called for state elections to be held.

He said the differences between Idris and Sulaiman, both of whom are in Umno, could have been resolved internally.

However, Umno wanted to see how it would fare against Bersatu.

“It will be a good test for Umno, which is why they are willing to gamble on Melaka,” he said.

Chin and Azmi said the Melaka crisis was an indication of an internal squabble within Umno.

Azmi said if Umno wins, it would spell big trouble for Bersatu.

Chin said if Bersatu wins, it would not bode well for Zahid and those in his camp as Melaka is a state where Zahid has a huge influence.

Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs cautioned Pakatan Harapan against playing a role in toppling the Melaka government, reminding them of the outcome of pressuring Muhyiddin Yassin to resign as prime minister.

The opposition had been quite enthusiastic about toppling Muhyiddin, only for him to be replaced by Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“There is no guarantee that you (the opposition) will become part of the government if you help one Umno fellow topple another,” he said.

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