As Bersatu moves to strengthen itself, cracks begin to show in PKR with latest defection

The logo of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia is seen on caps in this file picture taken December 29, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
The logo of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia is seen on caps in this file picture taken December 29, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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COMMENTARY, Mar 15 — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) is working at reinforcing itself as the backbone of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government even as political pressure mounts.

The recent spate of defections from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) — the latest being Dr Xavier Jayakumar — may see Bersatu escape from the threat of a vote of no-confidence when Parliament reconvenes.

Barisan Nasional’s (BN) threats of pulling its support which will collapse the ruling coalition is real; that will force the country to hold a snap election.

This will only stop — albeit temporarily — if Bersatu is able to bring in the numbers to sustain its position and the party is now seen working hard towards achieving this aim.

Bersatu’s move to strengthen itself and stabilise the political situation is nothing bizarre or surprising (or even something new) as any party which finds itself in a similar situation will do the same.

As the “big brother” of the ruling coalition, it has to exhibit its capability and strength through its influence and numbers and make sure the coalition continues to be in power.

The old politicians in Umno used to say: “When you are in power, be powerful... don’t be a bloody fool.” And Bersatu seems to be taking that saying to heart.

No one can blame Bersatu for the spate of defections because those are Datuk Seri Azmin Ali’s men who had stayed behind after he left back PKR in 2020.

The defectors were Azmin’s supporters in PKR and have been supporting him all along when PKR’s Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was away in jail and taking “holidays” until Azmin quit the party and moved to Bersatu.

Now that Azmin needs help, they moved out of PKR and joined Azmin... a move which affects PKR greatly, especially with the upcoming general election.

 It can be said this puts the PKR president’s dream to helm Putrajaya in jeopardy.

While Bersatu moves to strengthen itself, it has indirectly or rather unknowingly affected the strength of the Opposition in particular PKR and within the PN coalition, BN.

PKR is affected as the defections touch on Anwar’s credibility as a leader where he is seen as losing control of the party.

The defections also reveal that Azmin has been in control of the party and not Anwar and the defections reflect on Anwar’s leadership charisma – in short, he is losing his charisma.

Most importantly, the leaders in the party’s trust in him to lead has been eroded some time already and only now has the erosion become visible.

As for BN, it is losing steam as its president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi struggles with the unpredictable future of his court cases which in turn affects Umno’s future.

If Zahid moves out or resigns, then Umno may have a much better chance in regaining its former position as the Number One Malay party in the country’s political equation.

As for Bersatu, with its current move, party leaders still have a lot more work to do as they ready their election machinery in case talks with BN fails and they part ways.

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