Clashes inside a political party and fight for top spot are nothing new once the time for party elections arrives. The same remains true for Bersatu Malaysia Parti Pribumi (Bersatu).
For one notable distinction.
Here, the identities concerned have a major impact on the rest of the world. And not only Bersatu leaders.
There’s new party president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who’s also Malaysia’s prime minister, and there’s the one who opposes him for the party post — Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, Kedah ‘s former mentri besar and Bersatu ‘s founding chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was Muhkriz’s former prime minister and father as well. So, you got it there: two very distinct factions within the crowd. Muhyiddin helmed one, and Mahathir and Mukhriz the other helmed.
Analysts find out that what comes next is to reflect on how good Mukhriz is performing against Muhyiddin because the effect would decide the nonagenarian’s political future and those within his party.
Universiti Malaya Associate Prof. Madya Dr. Awang Azman Awang Pawi sees the forthcoming party polls as Bersatu’s double-edged knife, with the result poised for more fracturing divisions and community.
If Mukhriz wins, Awang Azman said losing nominee Muhyiddin would almost certainly launch a no-confidence vote in immediate revenge against the newly elected president.
“But if Mukhriz fails, he would lack a place to move in local politics; if not helped by Pakatan Harapan ( PH), Mukhriz’s political career would be finished.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s (UTM) Prof Azmi Hassan thinks that Mukhriz must contest for the presidency an difficult struggle against Muhyiddin, with the latter holding the group more tightly and with the additional bonus of being able to demand greater support as prime minister.
Azmi predicts Muhyiddin would lead by a margin that would weaken Dr Mahathir ‘s dreams of governing the party substantially.
“But the problem is, when will the polls be conducted at Bersatu? As for Muhyiddin, with all decisions on the group practically at his leisure right now, the earliest possible date is perfect for him.
Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Relations, said Mukhriz’s presidential campaign is a strong indication that Dr. Mahathir is not yet willing to give up his influence in the party.
Oh said if Mukhriz falls, there could be a breakaway with Dr Mahathir ‘s followers wanting Bersatu to defect alongside him.
Nonetheless, most observers think it is extremely unlikely — for logistical purposes and the dwindling interest of Dr. Mahathir within the local political scene — that he and Mukhriz would establish a new group in case Mukhriz loses to Muhyiddin.
Even entering either of the established parties in PH should he leave Bersatu would be a more possible and realistic choice, but cautioned that such a change could imply weakened degrees of power controlled by Dr Mahathir.
Bersatu will most definitely see the group surrendering the keys to its Perikatan Nasional (PN) partners without Dr Mahathir to preserve its position within the governing coalition.
Azmi and Awang Azman all accept that Dr Mahathir is not to be left out of any situation as a veteran leader. According to Awang Azman, Dr. Mahathir is likely to exhaust every single avenue that is possible to obtain a favorable outcome that could start with him trying to regain his presidency.
Nonetheless, he feels a push is likely to happen to “cleanse” Dr Mahathir ‘s group and his supporters. In fact, Azmi claimed that Muhyiddin actually has the power to dump Dr Mahathir ‘s party and his followers, but referred to the difficulties involved, considering the latter to be the creator of the movement.