PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional members should pay heed to recent remarks by Najib Razak about four types of Barisan Nasional leaders, and those unaligned to the party struggle, say political analysts.
“It is a warning,” said Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, while James Chin of the University of Tasmania said such rhetoric was intended to pressure prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to call for elections by October.
Speaking at the Sabah BN convention yesterday, Najib said there were four types of people in Barisan Nasional.
The first type was a “frog” or defector, the second those “hiding in a cave” or absent, the third was composed of those supporting Bersatu, and the fourth were those loyal to the party.
“We must assess how useful they are (to the party) when the time comes,” Najib said about the first three types.
Oh said Najib appeared to be urging the first three BN types to return to the fold. The remarks seemed aimed at Umno ministers who have been making remarks construed as disloyal to Umno’s mainstream faction.
“It is a warning. It is perhaps not too late for these prodigal sons and daughters to repent and return to the mainstream faction headed by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Najib Razak,” he told FMT.
Ibrahim Suffian of Merdeka Center said the categorisation reflected different opinions in Umno.
Umno members were “quite dynamic” and pragmatic and those types of leaders cited might change alliances and back one leader over another as and when the circumstances suit them, he said.
Chin said the faction supporting Najib and Zahid has more lobbying power to call for elections, given Umno’s recent victories at state elections in Melaka and Johor.
“Can Najib and Zahid pull it off (to call for polls)? It is a yes. Ismail, sooner or later, will have no choice but to get into an agreement with them,” he said. However, the question remained whether Ismail could deliver a victory by forming a government after the elections.
Another analyst, Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara, said it would be interesting to see who would be picked as candidates at the next polls, especially those deemed as “absent” or dormant and the others seen as leaning towards Bersatu.
“However, if a pro-Bersatu leader is not selected, it could be detrimental to BN if the leader has a huge following in their constituency. There is a lot to be considered here,” he added.