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HomeOther CountriesMalaysiaCan Umno win back the Malay vote? - MalaysiaNow

Can Umno win back the Malay vote? – MalaysiaNow

This depends on how the situation unfolds between now and the next general election, analysts say.
Umno’s future, heavily contingent on its Malay support base, appears to be up in the air following its president’s remark that the party’s long-held mantra of “No Anwar, no DAP” no longer applies in the wake of the Nov 19 election. 
With Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the helm, Umno and its Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition experienced its worst election defeat ever, winning in just 30 constituencies and losing even safe seats to other parties. 
Its poor performance was attributed to a so-called Malay tsunami linked to negative perceptions of Zahid, who is facing a string of criminal charges in court. 
Many votes once thought to belong to Umno instead went to Perikatan Nasional (PN), whose component PAS won a total of 49 seats.
Pakatan Harapan (PH), which together with Muda won 81 seats, eventually joined hands with BN to form the federal government despite strong protest from individual MPs.
Zahid himself came under strong pressure to step down, although those who called for his resignation subsided after Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as prime minister. 
Given Zahid’s U-turn on the party’s stand against working with Anwar and PH, analyst Jayum Anak Jawan said it would be only a matter of time for Umno unless a drastic shake-up took place at the top. 
“The Malays themselves have already rejected Umno,” he said, citing BN’s historic loss at the 2018 general election which saw it ejected from power for the first time since independence. 
“This is why Umno and BN lost so badly in 2018 and again this year. Many of the top Umno leaders are no longer relevant and will not be able to win back the support of the Malays.” 
Jayum, of Universiti Putra Malaysia, said Zahid himself was now seen as a leader who could not be trusted, and who would say one thing but do another. 
Fellow analyst Azman Awang Pawi said Umno might be able to win back the support of the Malays if it had a dominant role to play in the new government. 
“With strategic Cabinet positions, BN might be able to swing the Malay vote back to its side,” Azman, of Universiti Malaya, said. 
“This would weaken PN over the long run because it would not be involved in the federal Cabinet.” 
Umno information chief Isham Jalil previously said that the party had chosen to work with PH as it did not want to fight over the same vote bank with PN. 
Umno relies heavily on Malay support, especially in rural areas, as do PAS and Bersatu which are both under PN. 
Azmil Tayeb of Universiti Sains Malaysia agreed, saying the Malay vote now belonged to PN, with room to increase ahead of the next general election. 
From now until then, he said, Umno could forge a new narrative to fight its image as a party without principles. 
“Umno could introduce economic programmes and subsidies which benefit the people, especially the Malays,” Azmil said. 
“This would be enough to sink the PN narrative.” 
Nevertheless, he said Umno should in no way interfere with Zahid’s court cases, but allow the court to determine his fate. 
“This might put Umno in a good light,” he said. 
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