Bersatu needs to compromise

A compromise is an agreement whereby both parties get what neither of them wanted.

— Unknown

Let’s face it, the only reason that PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s claim of having a majority in Parliament hasn’t been ripped to shreds is the growing suspicion that he has backers in Umno.

This group of so-called party purists appears to believe that Umno shouldn’t be playing second fiddle to Bersatu in the federal government.

Umno, being a mammoth party over the last half century — dominating the nation’s political landscape — is not a party that would settle being a passenger in the federal administration; it wants to be in the driver’s seat.

That is why when Anwar purportedly offered the party a lifeline, it was tight-lipped on the PKR chief’s proposal.

Had Umno been happy and content with their position in the government, they would have rejected the proposal outright. But they didn’t and that is a cause for concern, at least to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Bersatu.

Some Bersatu leaders were very vocal on their concern, saying that Muhyiddin should give Umno what they want to save the increasingly fragile Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.

Of course, while Anwar’s claim predated the PN coalition’s win in Sabah, the recent victory in the Land under the Wind has brought up more questions than answers.

Yes, the time bomb when Umno and Bersatu were at loggerheads for their men to be named chief minister was effectively defused at least at the moment, but at what cost?

Had Bersatu yielded to Umno and named the latter’s Sabah state chief and Kinabatangan MP Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin instead of their man Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor as chief minister, they would have averted a bigger crisis.

But that wasn’t the case.

To the party purists in Umno, they felt that they made one too many sacrifices for Bersatu when they formed the federal government alongside it early this year and that the result of the Sabah polls as well as the Sabah Cabinet lineup was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

A Bersatu division chief, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to a local portal, said some leaders in the party viewed that it would be silly to not give in to Umno.

“The party leaders need to understand that Umno has the majority of parliamentarian support. If they pull out, the government collapses,” he was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, another Bersatu branch head viewed that Muhyiddin had to sacrifice his close ally Datuk Seri Azmin Ali in favour of Umno.

“We are a small party. We decided to work with Umno. Now if they want the deputy prime minister’s post, we must be willing to agree. If not, we may lose the government,” he said.

He also conceded that a Cabinet reshuffle should be on the cards as some of the ministers from Bersatu have not been performing up to expectations.

“We need to prove our worth to Malaysians by placing candidates of calibre,” he said, adding that at least three Bersatu ministers did not have a good public image and should be replaced.

So, where do we go from here? Muhyiddin will need to make a decision sooner rather than later; he has to pick a side, whether it is giving in to Umno’s demands or risk losing some support to the opposition side.

PN’s claim of commanding a majority in Parliament has been on thin ice for months and losing the support of a handful of Umno MPs could prove fatal.

While a snap election could be the clear answer to all this political uncertainty, the reality is, for Muhyiddin to call for a snap poll at this time would be an act of suicide — literally and

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down; a gentle reminder that tussling for political power during this dangerous period has its own repercussions.

There is also no guarantee that Bersatu can survive a snap general election without the backing from Umno which is the largest Malay party in the country.

Simply put, the Bersatu president is being pushed to a corner. To save PN, the federal government and the livelihood of his ardent supporters — the rakyat — it is his party’s turn to sacrifice in Umno’s favour.

While Anwar has been running his scheme and barking up the palace door, the key to Putrajaya still remains with Muhyiddin.