I had a conversation yesterday, where we tried to make sense of the political situation in Malaysia. It is a confusion situation all-around and the intricacies could only be understood by understanding the disputes in Umno, the one of the major sources of instability in Malaysia.
A systematic way to understand the troubles within the party is to ask two questions:
- One, do they want Zahid to remain as the party president?
- Two, do they want to remain part of Muhyiddin’s government?
The combination of the answers provides a clean division of the camps in Umno. See the graphics below:
Theoretically, there should be 4 camps.
But realistically, there are 3 camps only. This is because if a person prefers Zahid to remain as the party president, chances they would parrot his position. That means if they said yes to Zahid, it is likely they would also want out of Muhyiddin government. To signify that, I have struck one of the boxes out.
The 3 camps are:
- Najib-Zahid camp (Yes to Zahid but no to Muhyiddin). This is the camp suffering from multiple corruption charges.
- Hishammuddin camp (No-Yes). Hishammudin was one of the Sheraton Move architects.
- Tengku Razaleigh camp (No-No). Possibly the weakest camp among the three.
The names listed might be inaccurate because it is based on my readings and possibly their sentiment as reported in the press.
Additionally, there are names I put in the unknown brackets, but if the questions are right, then they would eventually be pigeonholed into a camp once the time comes.
And clearly from the chart, it is not exhaustive. It is difficult to know beyond the top names who sits where. This is especially when some of these people like Noraini Ahmad and Zahida Zarik Khan seem awfully quiet, and in some ways irrelevant despite being part of the party leadership.
Finally, some people in DAP have told me it is all about power (who has what and those without are making noises). However when I look at the problem closely, it is a bit hard to systematically rationalize the division through “power.” “Power” does not reveal the camps as clearly as it should. Nevertheless, it is difficult to dismiss “power” as a factor. It might very well be an underlying dimension beneath the two questions I am proposing for benchmarking purposes.