Sunday, December 26, 2021

Tense Umno-Bersatu ties hit by flood of criticism

Tense Umno-Bersatu ties hit by flood of criticism

Bersatu has called on the prime minister to be more active in leading flood relief efforts.

PETALING JAYA: The sentiment that Putrajaya has been slow in helping flood victims, particularly in the Klang Valley, can further strain Umno-Bersatu ties and change the timing of the next general election (GE15), analysts say.

The government, led by Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob, has been the target of criticism by Bersatu over its management of the flood response, opening yet another chapter in the uneasy relationship between both parties.

This all comes less than five months after the withdrawal of support by Umno MPs toppled the administration led by Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin.

According to Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid from Universiti Sains Malaysia, Bersatu leaders may use the issue surrounding the floods to “get their revenge” on Umno for its role in toppling Muhyiddin last August.

Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid.

“The war of words between Bersatu information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan and Umno MP Nazri Aziz reveals the true character of some of our politicians.

“Their priority, even when the lives of the people are at stake, is to score points against their political rivals.

“It is even sadder when this happens among fellow politicians in the ruling coalition,” he told FMT, referring to the involvement of the two parties in forming Ismail’s government.

On Thursday, Wan Saiful fired early shots at Ismail, calling on the prime minister to be more active in leading flood relief efforts.

However, this angered Nazri, who accused Wan Saiful of being an “idiot” in his criticism and not understanding the government’s administrative structure.

He hinted that Wan Saiful’s criticism of Ismail was an attempt to protect Bersatu’s Abdul Latiff Ahmad, the minister in charge of the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), who had been criticised for not moving quickly in going to the rescue of flood victims trapped in their homes by rising waters.

Analysts said the pair’s spat exposed the still-heated relationship between both parties.

“Bersatu leaders used the floods to argue that Umno and its leaders are incompetent.

“This comes at a time when the people expect political leaders to look after their welfare in the wake of a natural disaster. Instead, these politicians are busy using this as ammunition to attack others.

“This situation is also likely to influence the date of GE15,” said Fauzi.

Before the floods, it was believed that Ismail was not inclined to call for an early election, despite some high-ranking members of his party hoping it could be held soon to ride on the momentum of Barisan Nasional’s outstanding win in Melaka.

Azmi Hassan.

Now that the image of Ismail’s government has been tarnished by the flood relief response, Fauzi said Umno was likely to delay GE15 until the government’s assistance programmes for flood victims proves successful.

Meanwhile, analyst Azmi Hassan said the weak coordination of rescue efforts during the flood disaster had not only damaged Ismail’s image but also that of several Bersatu and PAS ministers.

However, he said the “stigma” on Umno could be less severe as its Cabinet members were not directly involved in the management of this particular crisis.

Therefore, he said the stance of Umno leaders that GE15 be held immediately was unlikely to change.

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