A Waste of Time to Negotiate Seats Allocation When Umno Can Still Pull the Plug at 11th Hour

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Nur Jazlan, the great UMNO pretender who quickly relinquished his position as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman probing 1MDB scandal upon given Deputy Home Minister post in 2015 by former Prime Minister Najib Razak, has just spoken what is in the mind of majority of UMNO warlords – Bersatu (PPBM) is useless and UMNO does not need Bersatu.

Holding no punches, Jazlan told his party to be tough against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s party – Bersatu – in seats negotiations for the coming 15th General Election. Obviously annoyed with a “leaked list” of seat allocation among the three Malay-Muslim parties, namely UMNO, Bersatu and PAS, the former deputy home minister went berserk and said – “Give it just 15 seats!”

Apparently, the list showed that UMNO was allocated 64 parliamentary seats while Bersatu got 54 seats and PAS only 31 seats. It doesn’t matter if the naughty list was deliberately leaked by Muhyiddin’s lieutenant Azmin Ali to test the water and see the reaction from partners UMNO and PAS. The Perikatan Nasional government has a bigger problem than the Opposition.

The fact that Jazlan has gone mad over the list, even though it is most likely a fake, suggests deep distrust between UMNO and Bersatu. The seats allocation disagreement could potentially morph into a serious deadlock in the hastily glued backdoor government of Muhyiddin. Worse, it could trigger a collapse of the government sooner than anticipated.

Even if UMNO somehow agrees to generously give away dozens of Malay-majority seats to Muhyiddin at the negotiation table, what is there to stop the evil UMNO from pulling the plug at the eleventh hour? Upon dissolving the Parliament, UMNO and PAS can always say all bets are off due to some silly excuses, can they not? By then, it would be too late for Muhyiddin to make a U-turn.

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Currently, the alliance of convenience between Muafakat Nasional (UMNO and PAS) and Bersatu saw a trade-off – the powerful prime minister post for Bersatu in exchange for surrendering states like Johor, Melaka and Kedah to UMNO and PAS. Even the state of Perak is under the control of UMNO and PAS. So, will this concession be still valid after the next election?

Yes, not only UMNO and Bersatu are having huge problems with seats distribution, both parties will have a similar issue like Opposition Pakatan Harapan – who will become the next prime minister? The leaked documents showed not only UMNO will give away some 20 parliamentary seats it had won in 2018 to Bersatu, Muhyiddin would like to control Perak, Selangor and Sabah.

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In other words, Muhyiddin wants to remain as the next prime minister as well as to control the crown jewel Selangor. That’s the message the leaked candidate list tries to send across. What type of grass has the greedy Bersatu been smoking? In the 2018 General Election, Bersatu under the leadership of Mahathir Mohamad won only 718,648 votes while UMNO grabbed 2,525,713 votes.

Essentially, Bersatu’s vote would translate to less than 30% (28.45%) of what UMNO had gotten in the previous election. How dare Muhyiddin’s boys demand 54 seats to be contested? Even Islamist party PAS (2,032,080 votes) won more than Bersatu. At best, Bersatu should just get one-third of what UMNO would get – for every 3 seats for UMNO, 1 seat goes to Bersatu.

Proportionately, Muhyiddin’s party had won only 13.6% out of the total combined 5,276,441 votes garnered by UMNO, PAS and Bersatu. Of all the 222 parliamentary seats in the country, 119 are Malay-majority. That probably explains why Nur Jazlan told UMNO to give just 15 seats to Bersatu, which coincidentally translates to roughly 13% of the 119 Malay-majority parliamentary seats.

To give Bersatu (PPBM) 54 seats would mean the party is asking for 45% of the 119 Malay-majority seats. The 54 seats would also translate to 36% of the total 149 seats that UMNO, PAS and Bersatu plan to contest, according to the leaked candidates list. It’s not hard to see how Bersatu wants to be treated as an equal partner, hence the attempt to solicit one-third of the total seats.

Again, why should UMNO and PAS treat PPBM as an equal partner when UMNO and PAS alone could share the spoil of war between themselves? The Muafakat Nasional can sweep clean all the 119 Malay-majority seats, or so they thought. UMNO believes it can grab the prime minister post as well as capture all the states except Selangor and Penang.

Voters from both sides of the political divide can’t wait to slaughter Muhyiddin’s party in the next general election. Pakatan Harapan supporters wanted to wipe out traitor Bersatu for betraying them. UMNO supporters wanted to wipe out Bersatu for causing the humiliating defeat of the Barisan Nasional regime. It seems very few like traitors Muhyiddin Yassin and Azmin Ali.

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This is not the first time Jazlan has slammed over the idea of sharing power with PPBM. In May, he said it would be silly to register Perikatan Nasional as an official coalition as UMNO and PAS alone are capable of maximizing Malay votes and win all the seats. Out of gratitude, UMNO is ready to accept Muhyiddin’s return to the party, but only he alone.

Other leaders of Bersatu must not impose any condition whatsoever if they too wanted to rejoin UMNO, according to Jazlan. That means all the existing MPs of PPBM will lose their seniority and perks and positions once they rejoin UMNO as ordinary members. This is perhaps the biggest stumbling block for a merger between UMNO and PPBM. Nobody wants to lose power.

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Like Mahathir, the only reason why Muhyiddin and his party are untouchable is because of the powerful prime minister post. Without the position, the party is worthless, useless and powerless. But this position has its expiry date, which is due by 2023. It’s a wishful thinking to say seats negotiation can be concluded by year-end so that a general election can be held early next year.

Former PM Najib Razak, who acts as de-facto leader of UMNO, has said repetitively that there are limitations to UMNO’s support for the new Perikatan Nasional government. It simply means the party would try their best to defend the Muhyiddin government until the next 15th General Election, after which all bets are off. And Najib has not changed his mind.

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Therefore, the lame-duck prime minister will not call for a snap election until he is absolutely sure he has the leverage. Make no mistake. An agreement over seat distribution is not that leverage because a promise can still be broken since principle and trustworthiness are rare commodities that don’t exist in UMNO-Malay anymore.

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That’s the problem when PPBM tries to be more Malay than UMNO Malay nationalist party and more Muslim than the Islamist party PAS. The party ended up neither here nor there without strong grassroots. The Malay-Muslims don’t trust them. and the non-Malays despise them. It’s a waste of time to negotiate the seat allocation for the next general election since there is a lack of trust among them. – Finance Twitter