PETALING JAYA: Former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar Isa Samad’s return to Umno will boost the unity coalition’s chances in the upcoming state election, said an analyst.
Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara said Isa, who held the menteri besar’s post for 22 years, is still influential, especially in Negeri Sembilan.
“With Barisan Nasional working together with Pakatan Harapan, and looking at Perikatan Nasional going all-out to capture Negeri Sembilan in the upcoming election, I would say it (Isa’s return) will benefit Umno, BN and, in a way, the unity government and also PH,” Azmi told FMT.
“I think Isa will not be a candidate for the upcoming state election, but he will be playing a critical role in terms of campaigning for the unity government and BN because of his influence in Negeri Sembilan.”
He said Isa would be rejoining Umno as an ordinary member and, therefore, would not affect the existing hierarchy in the party, particularly at the state level.
On May 27, Umno secretary-general Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki revealed that Isa had been accepted back into the party. The former Jempol MP had applied to rejoin Umno in July last year.
Isa, 74, had quit Umno in October 2018 to contest in the Port Dickson parliamentary by-election as an independent because the party did not field a candidate.
Anwar Ibrahim won the Port Dickson seat with a total of 31,016 votes, while nearest rival, PAS’ Nazari Mokhtar, garnered 7,456 votes. Isa secured 4,230 votes in the multi-cornered contest.
Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya said Isa’s return to Umno would help the party strengthen its grassroots support.
“I don’t think he will contest (in the state election), but he is expected to campaign for Umno to attract voters, especially those of the older generation, those who are his age,” he said.
He said Umno’s focus now was on fielding fresh faces in the election.
Isa, a former Felda chairman, is appealing to set aside his conviction on nine counts of corruption involving RM3.09 million in connection with Felda’s purchase of a hotel in Kuching in 2014. The hearing has been set for June 26.