PETALING JAYA: Sacked Umno leaders Khairy Jamaluddin and Noh Omar appear to be playing a “wait-and-see” game instead of joining other political parties because they know the wrong move will likely destroy their political careers, analysts said.
They said Khairy’s position is all the more precarious because he still nurses the ambition of becoming prime minister one day.
Neither one will be able to rejoin Umno unless a poor performance in the upcoming elections in six states forces party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his faction to step aside.
Political analyst and professor of Asian studies at the University of Tasmania James Chin said Khairy has never denied wanting the coveted post of prime minister.
“Khairy, being highly ambitious, will not leave Umno behind because he is planning to be the prime minister in the future.
“He has never denied his ambition. It will be a problem if he joins PAS or Bersatu, because he will just be one of the many people there.
“If he makes a comeback to Umno, he will be in a much better position. Right now, he is in cold storage, but if he hangs around, he has a chance to make a comeback once party president Zahid Hamidi and gang are forced out,” he told FMT.
Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya said the actions of Khairy and the suspended Hishammuddin Hussein suggest they know their only hope of assuming the mantle of prime minister is through Umno, especially given the current political landscape.
“They are not brave enough to form a new party in the post-GE15 political scenario, while Khairy knows he is finished if he runs on a Perikatan Nasional (PN) ticket and loses.
“Hishammuddin will lose his seat if he joins or forms another party, but Khairy, who is currently not an MP, does not want to risk his political career either,” he said.
Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara said Hishammuddin’s suspension could be lifted if he remained quiet during the state elections.
He said Hishammuddin, Khairy and Noh know their political careers lay only with Umno, but they first need to be accepted back into the fold.
“Khairy and Noh are opportunists. They will look at the state elections results and join PN if it does well. If PN does not, they will sit it out and wait for changes at the top of Umno before making their re-entry,” he said.
Chin said if Bersatu and PAS do well in the state polls, many unelected and senior Umno figures will likely cross over in preparation for the next general election.
However, that is a high-risk strategy, he said.
“The Malay vote is split in so many ways. It looks like PAS is the strongest of all the Malay parties, but Umno people cannot survive in PAS because the members (of PAS) do not like them.
“If Umno people try to reinvent themselves in PAS, they will get nowhere, so the chances of climbing the PAS ladder are almost zero,” he said.
Azmi said if PN secures a landslide victory, Khairy and Noh would likely join Bersatu or PAS officially.
However, if PN does not make any headway, both “can always go back to Umno”, he said, although they may encounter difficulty so long as the deputy head, vice-presidents and Supreme Council members are dominated by Zahid loyalists.