By LIM SUE GOAN
Sin Chew Daily
Since independence this country has never seen more political suspense and uncertainties than what we witness today. No one can predict the final outcome, and all that we can do is to wait for the eventuality to unfurl.
While the BN looks calm and at peace on the surface, component parties like MCA, Gerakan Rakyat and others are anxiously watching whether Umno will actually team up with PAS over RUU355.
If Umno were to go ahead without weighing the possible consequences, it will push the coalition and the nation as a whole towards the edge of destruction. Judging from Umno leaders' cautious discourse on RUU355 these days, we can see that they are still calculating and evaluating the gains and risks.
Will Umno leaders be present at the Feb 18 rally in support of RUU355? The strength of the participants and the intensity of emotions at the rally will very likely exert additional pressure on Muslim MPs.
What is RUU355? Is it unconstitutional and eventually giving rise to dual penal systems? Does Umno have a consistent stand on this issue from top down?
RUU355 aside, political observers are also concerned whether a new round of split will emerge within Umno.
Selangor MB Azmin Ali recently revealed that a senior cabinet minister would resign out of frustration with the 1MDB scandal. Umno leaders were quick to rebut the allegation but there is something we cannot deny, that there is indeed an emerging undercurrent within the party lately.
Last June, former second finance minister Ahmad Husni resigned from all his party posts, including the treasurer, triggering restlessness among the grassroots. Red Shirts leader Jamal Md Yunos recently resigned as Sungai Besar chairman. Obviously some in the party have not been happy with the way he does things.
It has also been rumored that agriculture and agro-based industry ministry Ismail Sabri Yaakob has not been in good terms with Umno's information chief Annuar Musa. The latter's Mara chairmanship was subsequently suspended, with the MACC now stepping in to probe.
When Annuar returned to the country on Feb 2, over a hundred party members from Kelantan's Ketereh division showed up at the airport in red to show their support, in what is widely perceived as something unusual.
In addition, the open clash between Annuar and Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail and his run for the FAM presidency could have a negative impact on Umno in the state.
Declining rural support rate is enough to put Umno leaders in jitters. But, Umno and BN are not the only ones to face unknown destiny.
The more moderate faction within PAS has never given up hope of working with Bersatu and PKR, including deputy president Tuan Ibrahim, while party president Hadi Awang and Kelantan deputy MB Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah are very firm in their antagonistic stand.
Hadi has outright rejected Mahathir's offer of one-month grace period to think over a possible tie-up, because the party would never work with any party that also works with DAP and Amanah. He even said he would let the party's general assembly decide whether to extend the cooperation with PKR.
In the meantime, four DAP elected reps in Melaka announced to quit the party, saying they could not work with people like Mahathir and Muhyiddin. They even apologized for urging the Chinese voters to support PAS during the 2013 general elections.
As a matter of fact, factional conflicts within Melaka DAP have been present for some time, and the alliance with Mahathir and the party's altered direction are not the actual contributing factors. Their resignation has exposed the party's undesirable leadership style that has aggravated its internal conflicts.
Their departure may not trigger a major tremor within the party, but whether it will affect the supporters' confidence will very much depend on how party leaders are going to handle the issue.
With the general elections just around the corner, both the ruling and opposition parties have failed to deliver to the rakyat a clearer picture of their political roadmaps just because they themselves have no idea which way they are heading to. Political interests could very well entice them to jump down the cliff!