Sunday, February 28, 2016

Expect cracks in Johor Umno after Muhyiddin suspension, says analyst

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's suspension from Umno is certain to cause disquiet within the party, especially in its birth place of Johor, independent pollster Ibrahim Suffian said today. Speaking on BFM radio this morning, the Merdeka Center executive director said there would be discomfort particularly among loyalists of the former deputy prime minister, such as in his Pagoh Umno division. "While I don't think there is going to be a state-wide rebellion, there is certainly going to be areas of disquiet within Johor Umno and we need to see how this develops over the next couple of years... whether or not this dissent boils over and creates cracks inside the party in Johor," Ibrahim said. He said despite Johor being an Umno stronghold, the opposition had made strides into the state. "Any kind of threat will allow the opposition to gain a bigger share of votes in the coming general election," he added. Muhyiddin's Umno membership was suspended by the party's Supreme Council on Friday until the next party elections. He also lost his post as Umno deputy president as a result. Ibrahim (pic, right) said the suspension also meant Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was closer to securing the Umno deputy presidency. Zahid replaced Muhyiddin as deputy prime minister after the latter was dropped in a Cabinet reshuffle last July. Zahid is now closer to the number one position in Umno, Ibrahim added. "The suspension of Tan Sri Muhyiddin and the appointment of Zahid as acting deputy certainly puts him in a very conformable position to succeed Najib if and when the current party president decides to retire from poltiics," Ibrahim said. The whole episode also showed that Umno was effective in ensuring its survival but the party would still have to take steps to address voter perception. "They might take action to address voter perception about its leadership. "Who knows, Zahid could be poised to become number one someday, but I think as things are, Najib remains there for now," Ibrahim said. The Malaysian Insider editor and chief executive officer Jahabar Sadiq, who was also a guest on the morning programme, said there could be a shift in Umno's power base only when elites in the party felt that Najib would cost them the next general election. Until that happens, Najib would continue leading the party into the next general election, he said. He added that Zahid had made an "amazing rise" in the party, and was a heartbeat away from the party presidency. Jahabar (pic, left) recounted how at one time, Zahid was blamed for being part of the political conspiracy against then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1998 following the sacking of  Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. "I think it's amazing and this shows you how people can move up in Umno if they put their hearts and minds to it, and I will not be surprised if he becomes party president one day, maybe sooner rather than later at the rate things are going. "He has the support of the grassroots, he is very popular," said the senior journalist. Asked what advice he would offer Muhyiddin now, Jahabar said the suspended Umno leader must swing into action as he had already "wasted seven months" since he was axed as deputy prime minister. "Muhyiddin has been very circumspect, because I think he is an Umno elite who can't see a future outside Umno." – February 29, 2016.]]>

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