LETTER | If the announcements after the six state elections were legitimate political efforts to woo conservative voters who predominantly support PN, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) is merely a greedy step for power consolidation.
Prohibiting a song with LGBT elements and dictating universities to conduct gender segregation in concerts, though controversial, still carries some policy base.
At least, the unity government could show the conservative voters that they care about their interests.
However, the Umno president’s DNAA could raise negative speculations, especially before the Pulai and Simpang Jeram by-elections and after a change of Attorney General (AG).
Malaysians do not care about the lengthy 11 reasons the deputy public prosecutor provided.
All they see is an allegedly corrupt politician, already being granted prima facie, released without being proven innocent.
Though the AG could still charge Zahid for the same offence, it seemingly would not happen anytime soon, as the unity government has chosen a path opposite to reforming their most significant political liability, Umno.
Uncertain political climate
Discharging Zahid could strengthen his position in Umno by convincing its grassroots that he is now clear of corruption allegations and is eligible to lead the party out of its corruption stain.
Those who oppose him would also receive a slap in the face.
But the overall political climate out there goes against this.
PN had already played up the issue during the by-elections in Johor, leading to some vote swing away from Pakatan Harapan, according to political analyst Wong Chin Huat.
In his article, he pointed out that the vote share of the by-elections showed that either Zahid’s DNAA did not transfer support to BN or Harapan supporters had abstained from voting due to the decision.
To worsen the situation, the unity government still lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority even though they won both Simpang Jeram and Pulai.
Out of its rage towards Zahid’s DNAA, Muda has decided to depart from the unity government to become the third force in the parliament.
Unlike the six state elections, Muda is now the third force at the federal level as that one seat it holds denies the unity government its two-thirds majority that they desperately need if they are serious about constitutional and institutional reforms.
When would the unity government ever learn their lesson and start dealing with the issue of Umno properly?
The so-called “post-mortem” promised by Umno top leaders to identify their current weaknesses seems to be going nowhere, as it remained stagnant at state and local levels.
Umno needs a thorough leadership reform at the federal level, meaning its supreme council must sit together and craft measures to bring a new image to the voters.
With Zahid being discharged, changing him may not be necessary, but they must find ways to convince voters that he is not corrupt as alleged and perceived.
The unity government would be digging its own grave if it refused to resolve Umno and Zahid's matters.
Most of their reform policies still need time to yield tangible results, but the current political climate could kill them immediately if they choose to turn a deaf ear.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.