KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 — The admission of former former Umno Supreme Council member Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar into Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), has riled many Pakatan Harapan supporters.
This was evident with many taking to social media, questioning the agenda of the PH component in bringing in the vestiges of the old regime into what many had hoped was a new direction for the country, and famously referred to as Malaysia Baru.
This is especially because Syed Hamid was the home minister who had ordered Christians against using the word “Allah” in 2009.
Threat to shut down Herald
He also warned to shut down weekly, Herald, a Catholic church publication, if they persisted in using the word.
Syed Hamid was home minister from March 18, 2008 until April 9, 2009. He was succeeded by Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who later admitted he could not do anything to resolve the issue as it was already too late for him to act, with the matter in the courts.
In August 2010, Hishammuddin was also reported by a news portal as saying that his predecessor, Syed Hamid, should not have banned the word “Allah” from being used by the Catholic Church.
Syed Hamid coy about when he joined Bersatu
Syed Hamid had resigned from Umno in June 29, saying the party had lost its way and placed more importance to the preservation of leaders rather than looking into the welfare of the people.
He was coy when asked yesterday on when he had joined Bersatu, replying that he was already a member.
The former chairman of the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) said he had been given the form to join Bersatu by the party’s deputy president, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.
“After submitting my application, I also met Bersatu chairman and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently,” he told the media at an event related to the Rohingya crisis. He is the executive adviser to the Asean Rohingnya Centre.
His admission that he had also been appointed as the party’s Elections Committee chairman, suggests that he had joined shortly after leaving Umno.
Other Umno leaders, lawmakers may join Bersatu
Though Syed Hamid may not have been an elected representative when leaving Umno, him being already a member of Bersatu suggests that there could be others from among for Umno leaders and warlords who have joined Mahathir and co.
This could be indicative of the power struggle within Pakatan Harapan between the Malay or Malay-majority parties, especially PKR and Bersatu.
The impending return of PKR president and Pakatan Harapan’s “Ketua Umum” Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim into the Dewan Rakyat through the hastily-engineered Port Dickson sees a likely power struggle in the works.
Power struggle could break new government
Speculation is rife of a possible PKR-BN-PAS-GPS alliance that could see the collapse of the PH government and a new administration taking over with Anwar as Prime Minister.
In order not to lose their grip, Mahathir and Bersatu may be looking to consolidate their power base by attracting Umno leaders and lawmakers to their camp, according to political observers.
Two former ministers from Umno, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (Jeli MP, Kelantan) and Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (Kimanis MP, Sabah) left the party last week. This was in addition to three other Umno MPs who left the party between June and July.
None of them have sworn allegiance to any other party, but adding five MPs to their ranks will greatly boost Bersatu’s credentials in a PH government.