PETALING JAYA: New opposition leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has his work cut out for him in ensuring cooperation not only between Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS, but also among BN members themselves, a political analyst says.
Kamarul Zaman Yusoff told FMT that if Zahid was not able to inspire confidence in his leadership, some BN MPs might decide to become independents or join Pakatan Harapan (PH).
He added that Zahid needed to be able to work out the potential issues that could break BN.
“He needs to not only unite Umno/BN MPs with PAS MPs, but also Umno/BN MPs.
“Failure to do this will not only weaken the opposition but will also quicken the pace of Umno/BN MPs moving out to be independents or moving to the PH camp,” he said.
He said issues which could divide Umno included the recognition of the UEC qualification for Chinese school students to enter public universities and the unilateral conversion of children by a parent who coverts to Islam.
Zahid, the Bagan Datuk MP and Umno president, occupies the first seat in the opposition’s front row in the Dewan Rakyat.
Commenting on the Dewan Rakyat walkout by opposition MPs in protest over former Court of Appeal judge Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof’s appointment as the new speaker, Kamarul said this was not a good sign for Zahid.
Of the MPs, only Khairy Jamaluddin (Rembau), Anifah Aman (Kimanis) and Mas Ermieyati (Masjid Tanah-independent) had remained in the Dewan Rakyat.
“That is the kind of example that can really test his leadership,” Kamarul said. “It shows that they are unlikely to be on the same road.
“If he can’t control or lead his own MPs then people will question his ability to control and lead MPs from other parties.”
Allow Zahid time to prove himself
Kamarul said although many people were sceptical of Zahid’s leadership skills, they needed to give him the benefit of the doubt and allow him time to prove himself.
He said previous opposition leaders such as Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail of PKR were “not that effective but the opposition then was still very strong”.
He said this was due to the prominence of, and strong support given to her by, other more effective opposition leaders.
“As to whether he will be effective in that role, we will have to wait first because he needs to adjust from being a Cabinet member to becoming an opposition MP, and from being Umno/BN deputy leader to being its president/chairman.
“He needs to adjust to being the opposition leader as well.
“He should coordinate the task of checking the government by establishing a shadow Cabinet so that there will be a clear division of duties and a more effective opposition.”