At the end of decision day, early in the morning of May 10, while rakyat and pundits were scratching their head guessing the total number of seats Pakatan as a coalition had, one number was rarely mentioned, which is 54.
Which is the number of seats Umno won. The Pakatan and BN overall seat counts aside, they were the largest party in Parliament, on May 10.
Today, three days later, no one is sure anymore what that number is, how much it has dwindled. For beginners, the eight parliamentary seats in Sabah are exiting PWTC as we speak.
What does it tell?
Not a lot actually. Well at least anything flattering about the party, which turned 72 yesterday.
The crisis in Kedah and Perak, where BN were in a stalemate, cleared up when Umno men and women crossed over. They don’t have the appetite to be opposition members or to govern a state while being opposed to the federal government. Great for the state, but is it a positive for democracy and the democratic practices in Umno?
In states where Umno desertions were unnecessary, like Johor, several reps are abandoning ship and walking over to Pakatan.
I had expected the Kedah and Perak Umno loyalty to falter, but it is now a trend Semenanjung wide. There are questions now over Pahang and Perlis. Sabah Umno has said they are out of BN and probably out of the party regardless of their control of the state
It’s not happy days for the two mentri besar there. To seek sympathy from Kelantan and Perak, and shunted out of the federal equation. Both Selangor and Penang were economically resilient when they began their status as opposition states in 2008, they could weather an unfriendly federal government, but it is unlikely to be the case for Pahang and Perlis.
Perlis is too small, but it likely cut a deal with the federal government because the state has no strength to stand alone.
Pahang Umno boss Adnan Yaakob is about to experience what no previous Umno MB has ever endured, to be isolated.
They have only a four seat majority (25 out 42) but with PKR’s nine and PAS’ eight never likely to gang up, it is a good majority. But I am not sure the Umno Aduns are excited about their future prospects when they are used to living off federal support.
No core principle
Umno’s lack of purpose shows one thing, that their existence centred around as a vessel for power only. Party survival and promotions were based on relationships, wealth and influence. No one moved up in Umno, because they had a good idea.
There is no central idea or ideology connecting the members.
They only had “Hidup Melayu”. So when the presumed monopoly of caring for Malays is broken, and if the fuel for the party was power slash money, and not ideas and the ability to contribute, there is a gaping hole.
I’m not sure Zahid Hamidi or Khairy Jamaluddin have a way out of this.
They may sit in the shadows and wait for Pakatan Harapan to crumble and lose the people’s faith. But that is not a strategy for a party, that’s the attitude of a gambler.
Plus there is no guarantee no other groups or parties will step in and fill the perceived space Umno carved for itself, because it does not have federal power to protect that space anymore.
I too wonder what can be a workable ideology for a party built on a right-wing agenda rich with the sense of entitlement.
Zahid probably believes in staying the course and be better at the game, and Khairy would want to build from ground up which may include ending its time as a race party. Either path, will be arduous.
And for a change, this year, there will be no live around the clock coverage on RTM of the Umno general assembly.
How about that? And back to the first question, how many parliamentary seats, let alone assembly seats Umno truly has in its hands right now?