PETALING JAYA: Two analysts are at odds over whether Umno Supreme Council member Isham Jalil’s sacking would have an impact on the party.
International Islamic University Malaysia’s Lau Zhe Wei says Isham’s sacking is inconsequential, while Council of Professors fellow Jeniri Amir believes it may create a rift between Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his predecessor, Najib Razak.
Lau said Isham was nowhere near the likes of former ministers Khairy Jamaluddin and Hishammuddin Hussein in terms of influence.
Khairy, a former Umno Youth chief, was sacked earlier this year, while Hishammuddin, a former vice-president, was suspended.
“I don’t see the action taken this time around (to sack Isham) dividing Umno further, as Umno had been divided after the initial purge,” Lau told FMT.
Umno also sacked former Selangor chief Noh Omar and suspended former information chief Shahril Hamdan in January.
On Thursday, Umno Supreme Council member Ahmad Maslan confirmed that Isham had been sacked from the party.
The sacking came in the wake of his criticism of the party citing Umno’s continued cooperation with DAP. There were also claims that he had not attended several Supreme Council meetings.
Isham had also challenged Zahid, whom he once strongly supported, to a debate.
Jeniri, on the other hand, said the sacking may create a rift between Zahid and Najib. Isham is said to be a huge supporter of the former prime minister.
“To say that it (Isham’s sacking) has no direct impact is (inaccurate).
“Surely Najib’s supporters will be disappointed. Those who share Isham’s views will likely sympathise with him. And this will create schisms and (may) lead to protests.”
Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs believes Isham’s dismissal highlighted two Umno trends – ongoing dissatisfaction with Zahid’s leadership, and the growing number of members seeking Malay unity through an alliance with Perikatan National (PN).
However, he said, it was too early to conclude that the decision to sack Isham would lead to a rift between Najib and Zahid as they continue to retain a close relationship.