: Political analysts are of the view that Perikatan Nasional (PN) still leads the country under Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin although UMNO yesterday decided not to join the coalition.
According to Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, this was because UMNO had never joined PN since the formation of the government under the leadership of Muhyiddin and that UMNO's decision against joining the coalition should not cause any confusion.
"The situation is very much status quo. PN still rules," he said when commenting on yesterday's announcement by UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that the party would not join PN, but instead strengthen the position of Muafakat Nasional (MN), which is a pact between UMNO and PAS.
Ahmad Zahid stated at a press conference that the party's support for the PN government was based solely on the backing of UMNO and BN Members of Parliament as well as state assemblymen in the formation of the federal government and several state administrations.
"Zahid's statement to strengthen MN and sideline any political collaboration with PN does not mean it is not with the government. Perikatan Nasional itself is not formal," said Prof Sivamurugan.
He described Ahmad Zahid's announcement of UMNO not being with PN as having to do with pressure from UMNO members on him following rumours that PN would be officially registered apart from being linked to the guilty verdict of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak by the High Court recently.
Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) political analyst Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani, meanwhile, said that all these while UMNO only spoke of the MN agenda, which focused on Malay and Islamic unity in the by-election campaigns.
"UMNO's political move not to join PN is weird, although it technically does not jeopardise the current government," he said.
"The implication will be felt during the election. This means BN and Bersatu can contest against one another. If Bersatu wants to join MN, then UMNO and PAS must change the Muafakat Nasional charter, which all these while has been about Malay Islamic unity between UMNO and PAS. If it is successfully carried out (MN+Bersatu), then the political manoeuvring in the General Election will be simpler," he said.
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) political analyst Dr Syed Agil Alsagoff said UMNO's decision clearly showed the party's strategy was to strengthen Muafakat Nasional, which it dominates with PAS, compared to PN, which is controlled by Bersatu.
"However, what I doubt now is what will happen to BN's component parties, especially MCA and MIC. This is because MN is about the struggles of the Malays and Islam.
"Politically, it seems a bit off as it's based on agreement and trust only," said Syed Agil, who did not discount the possibility that what happened yesterday is a sign to all parties that the 15th GE is fast approaching.