PETALING JAYA: Two political analysts have made opposing predictions on whether high profile PPBM leaders will campaign for the Umno candidate in the upcoming Chini by-election.
Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia said he believed they would not, but Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia said he did not see PPBM considering it a problem to have figures like Muhyiddin Yassin and Azmin Ali going to the ground to support Barisan Nasional’s campaign.
Azmi said PPBM would be wary of giving the impression that it was desperate for Umno’s support in running the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration and would prefer to show it was in control.
It was fully aware of its precarious position, he added.
Umno last month declared its relationship with PN was based merely on an understanding with other parties to restore a working government. It also said that it did not join PN.
PPBM runs the PN government with support from Barisan Nasional, PAS and some minor parties.
Azmi also noted that there were segments in PPBM that find the party’s closeness with Umno discomforting.
He referred to the fallout between Muhyiddin and Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who leads a faction of PPBM, and said figures in Muhyiddin’s faction would be wary of giving fresh ammunition to Mahathir by campaigning for Umno. “Mahathir would infer Muhyiddin is Umno’s puppet.”
Kamarul Zaman said members of Muhyiddin’s faction would see the by-election as an opportunity to show Umno that PPBM was a reliable partner.
Their participation in the campaign, he added, would bring the two parties closer and “ensure PPBM’s survival in the next general election”.
He acknowledged, however, that Umno didn’t need much help in its stronghold of Chini.
He disagreed with Azmi that PPBM’s participation in Umno’s campaign would reek of desperation, noting that Umno’s victory was a certainty.
Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said he believed PPBM’s support for Umno’s campaign would be tacit and would be shown through the approval of development funds for Chini.
He said neither Muhyiddin nor Azmin would add value to the campaign by being on the ground.
He noted that the Chini state seat falls under the Pekan parliamentary constituency, whose MP is former prime minister Najib Razak, and said PPBM might not want to give the impression that it was in cahoots with Najib.
The by-election will be held on July 4. The seat fell vacant with last week’s death of Abu Bakar Harun.
In the 2018 general election, Abu Bakar retained Chini for Umno with a 4,622 majority against PAS and PKR.
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