Friday, June 3, 2016

UMNO's Political Gambit

Abdul Hadi Awang’s latest Private Member’s Bill was his third attempt. This fella doesn't give up!
 
Anyway, it made to the Dewan Rakyat only after UMNO’s benevolent intercession. You and I know that PAS needed UMNO to make it happen.
 
And all because Najib Razak and Hadi are romancing!

On Thursday in Parliament, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman Said citing Standing Order 14(2) had proposed to move the Hadi Bill up the queue on the order paper. And it was seconded by Deputy Works Minister Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin. Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia gave his approval and he reportedly remarked it would otherwise never have “seen the light of day”.
 
As it is not an amendment to the Constitution itself but an amendment to an Act of Parliament, the Hadi Bill would require a mere 112 votes for it to be passed and not a two-thirds majority.
 
Even with UMNO combining with PAS, they will need the support of another 12 Muslim reps  whether from PBB, Amanah, PKR or DAP. 
 
Still, UMNO cozying up to PAS is an interesting development.
 
Some opined that it is an UMNO ploy to improve the party’s prospects in the June 18 by-elections in two parliamentary constituencies – Sungai Besar in Selangor and Kuala Kangsar in Perak.
 
In the 2013 general election, BN won Sungai Besar with a miniscule majority of just 399 votes. And as for Kuala Kangsar, the ruling coalition’s share of the valid votes (excluding spoilt votes) has dramatically declined over the last three general elections – from 66.3% in 2004, 53.6% in 2008 to 51.1% in 2013.
 
Moreover, these two seats have 70 percent and 80 percent Malay voters respectively. It is imperative that UMNO garner the Malay votes since the non-Malays are likely to abandon BN. Therefore, joining forces with PAS makes sense for UMNO because it deals the party with a stronger hand in the elections. PAS, on the other hand, need UMNO’s backing to help them realize their hudud ambition. A win-win situation for both.
 
Others suggested that this was an UMNO tactic to show Malay voters in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar that UMNO and PAS are working together to “unite” the Malays. UMNO are good at promoting the “them versus us” line and may just convince voters in the afore-mentioned Malay majority constituencies.
 
There are those who believe that UMNO are scheming to break up the ‘unholy alliance’ of PKR, DAP and PAS in Selangor. This can pave the way for the 15 PAS assemblypersons to join forces with UMNO’s 12 reps to make 27. And if former menteri besar Khalid Ibrahim, who is now an independent assemblyperson, comes on board – they will then control exactly half of the 56 seats in the Selangor State Legislative Assembly.
 
This will trigger a snap election and offer BN a chance to recapture the state.
 
And also those who saw it as a tactical move to forestall any future rapprochement between PAS and DAP, the two strongest political parties in the now dismembered opposition coalition that is Pakatan Rakyat. If the two were to work together again without Hadi of course they would be formidable. I daresay UMNO would be seriously challenged. 
 
There is more to it. If UMNO insist to go ahead with their endorsement of the Hadi Bill, the first consequence they will have to confront will be the disintegration of BN.
 
If this were to happen, an imminent danger will be the collapse of the federal administration. It’s impossible for UMNO with their 86 seats to form a coalition government with just PAS – since they will not even muster a simple majority in the 222-seat Parliament.
 
The only next best thing that can be done is to dissolve Parliament to pave way for an early general election which may not necessarily give UMNO an upper hand. The second possible consequence UMNO will be confronted with is deepened communal and religious confrontation that may possibly tear the country apart.
 
I think UMNO are taking a big gamble by having a wild fling with PAS.
 
Malaysians will only know the outcome in the next general election. In the meantime, we will just have to wait and see. 
 
BTW, yesterday, Hadi came out boldly to say that Malaysia must be governed according to Islam. The PAS version of Islam, that is.
 
Where is this country heading to?

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