We all have our favorite bands – from The Pixies to One Direction. We listen to them and we have a fondness for their music. Sadly though, these bands that we’re often so fond of tend to break up eventually, subsequently breaking the hearts of twinks everywhere.
And now, there’s a band in Malaysia that’s rumored to be breaking up soon: Perikatan Nasional (PN).
Okay, okay, jokes aside, things seem to have gotten really shaky with our government, especially between UMNO and Bersatu, so much so that there are talks of a snap election happening this year to settle things once and for all.
It all kinda got our heads spinning, because UMNO and Bersatu had seemed like besties while pulling off the Sheraton Move and we’d only had this government for, like, less than a year. What could have possibly led to their relationship deteriorating so quickly? Well, worry not, because we’re here to clear things up with a lot of band references, starting with…
1. UMNO and Bersatu were never really besties in the first place
Sometimes, even when you got together to do something, it doesn’t mean you have to like each other, just like the Ramones. The Ramones was a successful punk rock band back in the 1970s, but for much of their career, the members actually hated one another, but they continued making music anyway until their breakup in in 1996.
UMNO had always maintained that the coalition was temporary and it didn’t plan on staying for long. Apparently, it was only an understanding for the parties to “save Malaysia” from political tussles within Pakatan Harapan (PH).
“To put it simply, it was an understanding to form the government and administer Malaysia due to Pakatan’s failures and nothing more than that.” – UMNO deputy president Mohamad Hassan, as quoted from The Star
In addition, it was also said that UMNO members were unhappy with the Cabinet picks after Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had announced them. Apparently, the party considered the Cabinet lopsided and displayed a sense of favoritism towards Azmin Ali and co, while UMNO leaders were given ‘non-critical’ and junior portfolios.
It all came to a head when UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that the party won’t officially join PN in July 2020, choosing instead to focus on Muafakat Nasional (MN), a coalition between UMNO and PAS only. However, at the time, he stated that UMNO would continue to support PN for the time being.
“Our decision is that we are not going to be a component member of Perikatan if it were to be registered.” – Zahid, as quoted from The Star
2. Zahid vaguely hinted support for Anwar, but only vaguely
We’re pretty sure that some of y’all who’s reading this article is a Directioner, and as a Directioner, you’re probably familiar with the friendship between Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. Before One Direction’s breakup, Styles and Tomlinson seemed to have the closest bond among all the members, but things took a downturn when the band broke up and now their friendship is said to have strained.
And just like Styles and Tomlinson, Zahid and Anwar Ibrahim used to be BFFs when Anwar was still in UMNO, which we’ve written about here. But then, you know, Anwar was booted out of UMNO and built his own opposition party.
However, in September 2020, Anwar claimed that he had the numbers to form a new government. And out of a surprising turn of events, Zahid had come forward to announce that there was a huge chunk of UMNO MPs who supported Anwar’s latest attempt in taking over, even alluding that he was one of them.
“I was told that a big chunk of Umno and BN MPs have voiced their support. I respect the decision made by these MPs.” – Zahid, as quoted from NST
However, it didn’t turn out too well for Anwar. Soon after his meeting with our Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Anwar was told to “to abide by and respect such legal processes enshrined in the Federal Constitution“. And the whole thing kinda died out after that.
It didn’t completely die down though, because rumors of UMNO cooperating with PH started swirling up again in recent months. In fact, the rumors even allegedly caused infighting within UMNO itself, where Annuar Musa ended up getting sacked as BN’s secretary-general for insisting that UMNO will never work with Anwar under any circumstance.
“I will defend the Supreme Council’s ‘No DAP, no Anwar’ stand. If they want to sack me, then, by all means, go ahead… If they want to back those who support (cooperation with) DAP and Anwar, then please proceed as well.” – Annuar, as quoted from CNA
Upon his sacking, Annuar even alleged that Zahid had penned a letter in support of Anwar to topple the current government. He accused Zahid of causing disharmony within UMNO and using the party to push his personal agenda, though we don’t really know what personal agenda he was talking about. However, Zahid had denied such a letter, and never really did publicly voice his support for Anwar at the time of writing.
3. Bersatu was allegedly buying members from UMNO
This doesn’t really have anything to do with bands, but the feud between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry is kinda legendary. It all started when Perry had poached dancers from Swift’s concert tour in 2014, which jumpstarted rumors that Perry was trying to sabotage Swift. In fact, Swift even wrote a song about their feud.
And what’s happening now with UMNO and Bersatu is kinda the same thing, where Bersatu was accused of stealing members from UMNO. UMNO Youth Chief Asyraf Wajdi claimed that they had been receiving complaints from grassroots members, alleging that Bersatu has been ‘buying‘ UMNO members by paying them RM100 each.
“Some have admitted to joining Bersatu after being paid up to RM100, and every branch set up would get between RM3,000 and RM5,000.” – Asyraf, as quoted from The Vibes
The claims were further bolstered by former UMNO supreme council member Nazri Aziz, who alleged that Bersatu has been offering RM20,000 to UMNO members to set up Bersatu branches. He mentioned that this was one of the reasons UMNO is unhappy with Bersatu and is considering a split.
“They stole our members, they gave money to our people. That’s true, RM20,000 for them to set up a branch. They have no members.” – Nazri, as quoted from Malaysiakini
However, Bersatu has denied the allegations, further threatening a lawsuit if Asyraf doesn’t retract his accusation. And yet, instead of retracting, Asyraf stood by his remarks and even welcomed the potential lawsuit. Unlike Swift and Perry, who eventually made peace with one another in 2019, it doesn’t seem like the bad blood between the two parties will be resolved anytime soon.
UMNO and Bersatu will be going against each other in the next election
The Beatles had a Yoko Ono; UMNO and Bersatu have three. But who knows if they’ll come up with more Yoko Onos in the near future?
One thing we can be sure of, though, is that UMNO and Bersatu are not getting along as well as they used to. While a host of BN ministers and deputy ministers have stated that they will support Muhyiddin’s administration, it will only be until GE15.
When that happens, UMNO seems determined to go their own way and intends to contest all seats that it lost during GE14, even those lost to Bersatu. Plus, there already 189 out of 191 UMNO divisions that have declared their refusal to work with Bersatu in the upcoming elections.
A coalition that’s formed mainly for the purpose of running a government is rarely ever strong – we’ve seen that with PH ourselves. And now, it seems like the same thing will happen to PN. Still, both Bersatu and UMNO have been pretty tight-lipped about their decisions on whether to stick together or break up at the time of writing. If they do break up though, there may yet be another political crisis, less than a year after the last one.
Because obviously, Malaysians haven’t been through enough over the last year.