Crossover by Umno MPs will boost PPBM’s position in PH, say analysts

The former Umno MPs who were accepted into PPBM yesterday.

GEORGE TOWN: A political analyst sees PPBM’s move to accept seven former Umno MPs as a bid to consolidate its position in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, where it has long been seen as weak, holding the least number of seats.

With only 13 seats earlier, PPBM had had to catch up with the likes of PKR and Umno which had 47 and 37 seats respectively in Parliament. Following the crossover of the seven, Umno’s share has been reduced to just 30.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Shamsul Amri Baharuddin said in accepting the MPs into the party, PPBM was doing what any political entity would: boosting its prospects and power by adding more numbers to the ruling coalition.

He told FMT that the numbers game was significant for PPBM as the prime minister, along with 12 ministers and deputy ministers, are from the party.

“Today, Umno can ask MCA to get out of Barisan Nasional because it has the strength to do so, but PPBM cannot say the same to PKR and DAP.

“PPBM’s heart must have been in its mouth because it knew it was the weakest party in the ruling coalition,” he said, adding that “it has to strengthen itself”.

Amri also said more Umno members and leaders could be expected to leave the party soon, especially following rumours that all 191 divisions are being investigated for receiving illegal funds from state investment fund 1MDB.

Meanwhile, Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Sivamurugan Pandian said PPBM must work to prevent an internal crisis in PH due to the entry of new MPs.

While it was acceptable to admit members into the party, he said, PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad had often assured other PH components of an internal assessment of such MPs before they are allowed to enter the fold.

“PH as a whole had said that a collective decision must be made in order to admit ex-Umno members.

“Perhaps PPBM feels that new members can play a role in repositioning the party within PH, and possibly even outside the coalition,” he said.

Yesterday, seven former Umno MPs joined PPBM. They are former domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism minister Hamzah Zainuddin, former deputy tourism minister Mas Ermieyati Samsudin and former deputy health minister Abdul Latiff Ahmad.

The four other MPs were Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz (Tanah Merah), Mohamad Fasiah Mohd Fakeh (Sabak Bernam), Rosol Wahid (Hulu Terengganu) and Shahbudin Yahya (Tasik Gelugor).