Umno still a force to be reckoned with in Sabah, say analysts

Umno leaders hail the victory of their candidate Mohamad Alamin (fourth from left) in the by-election in Kimanis, Sabah, in January.

KUCHING: Umno is still a force to be reckoned with in Sabah, particularly in the coming general election, two political analysts said.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s (Unimas) Arnold Puyok said Umno still has support in Sabah with strong networks throughout the state.

He said winning the Kimanis seat last January was important for Umno to stay relevant. “It showed that the party still has many supporters and a strong network which can be activated anytime.”

Puyok was commenting on a statement by Rural and Regional Development Minister Abdul Latiff Ahmad that Umno was no more relevant in the state.

Arnold Puyok

Latiff, from PPBM, had said in a live Facebook session organised by Mara that those who had jumped shipped in Sabah had “migrated” to PPBM.

But Puyok said the only reason PPBM was strong in Sabah was because of its president Muhyiddin Yassin.

He said if Muhyiddin was unable to consolidate support for PPBM, there was a possibility he would rejoin or merge with Umno, with the support of Sabah PPBM members.

He also said PPBM could not compete with Umno because the latter had more seats.

“There is a growing feeling that Umno has regained its popularity among the Malays, especially those who have lost confidence in PKR president Anwar Ibrahim and former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” he said.

He said Pakatan Harapan did not contest against Barisan Nasional in the recent Chini by-election because it could not afford another backlash from voters since it was already in bad shape following the fallout among its leaders.

Jayum Jawan

Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Jayum Jawan agreed with Puyok, saying that Umno’s string of by-election wins had shown the party was on a rebound.

He said all parties competing for Malay votes should be worried of Umno which still had extensive grassroots support.

Jayum added that Umno remains one of the parties with the largest number of MPs in the 222-seat Parliament

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