Analyst: States’ CMCO Defiance Reflect Perikatan Infighting

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The decision by states allied with Perikatan Nasional (PN) to postpone or defy easing the movement-control order (MCO) is symptomatic of the intra-party feuding in the ruling coalition, said an analyst.

The feud is another sign of how all is not well between Bersatu, the prime minister’s party, and its rival-turned-partner Umno, which has the most parliamentary seats in the PN government.

Tricia Yeoh, of the think-tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), said the states which defied Putrajaya are those where Bersatu is not dominant.

“If you look at states that disagreed with PN, they are states that do not necessarily depend on Bersatu,” said Yeoh on the current affairs programme Consider This on Astro Awani.

“It’s symptomatic of the political feuding that is taking place in the coalition,” she said.

The PN-ruled states that have defied Putrajaya are Kelantan, which is led by PAS; Pahang, headed by Umno; and Sarawak, which is governed by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), a coalition of state parties friendly to PN.

PN is a loose alliance between Bersatu, Umno, PAS, GPS and 10 former PKR MPs, which was formed to oust Pakatan Harapan in late February through defections and plotting.

These states have said they won’t follow Putrajaya’s decision to open up almost all business activities that were shut down during the MCO, which began on March 18 to break the chain of coronavirus infections.

The easing of restrictions, called the conditional movement-control order (CMCO), allows most economic sectors to resume business, provided they follow health standard operating procedures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Other states that have decided to delay easing lockdown restrictions are Kedah, Sabah, Selangor, Penang and Negri Sembilan, which are ruled by Pakatan Harapan and ally Parti Warisan Sabah.

Yeoh said other cracks in PN are reflected in how Umno leaders have openly criticised Bersatu ministers such as senior minister Mohamed Azmin Ali and even Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Umno lawmakers such as Shahrir Samad and Abdul Rahman Dahlan have criticised Azmin’s handling of the International Trade and Industry portfolio during the MCO.

Azmin was part of the PH government, which ruled from May 2018 to February 2020, and was also PKR deputy president.

He and nine other PKR MPs had defected in late February, along with most of Bersatu’s parliamentarians, which triggered the collapse of the PH government.

Umno has also repeatedly said that its support for PN is “temporary”, despite it being a part of the ruling government.

In Johor, Umno and Bersatu have reportedly been fighting over plum appointments to state-linked firms and agencies.

Going forward, this intra-party feuding is expected to be a feature of the PN government said IDEAS’ Yeoh.

“It’s a bigger problem that the PN government and the PM will have to deal with. It is basically political infighting, and it tells you the story of the instability of states and the federal government.”   – TMI