By Mohsin Abdullah
Umno has always pulled out the gun, taking aim and threatening Bersatu (and Perikatan Nasional for that matter) but has never pulled the trigger.
Not that they have not fired anything but the final deadly shot was never executed. Something like that as I see it.
The latest such incidents, so to speak ,were the things that came out of the Umno supreme council meeting held on the night of Wednesday January 6.
As we know prior to that, a big number of the 191 Umno divisions all over the country have called for Umno to cut ties with Bersatu – thus pulling out of PN at one go.
What followed was a barrage of verbal onslaught by many party leaders justifying the call to sever ties with the Muhyiddin-led Bersatu and "the need to listen to the grassroots".
Enter Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the Umno president, telling all and sundry that the Wednesday supreme council meeting will decide the demand by the Umno divisions.
As if as a "prelude" to what was to come, Tan Sri Annuar Musa, a staunch defender of Bersatu, was sacked as BN secretary-general.
However, after all the bravado and hoo-hah, the supreme council made a decision not to make a decision. Instead, the council decided to let the Umno general assembly on January 31 discuss a motion on severing ties with Bersatu going into GE15.
The said motion also calls for consolidating cooperation with PAS through Muafakat Nasional.
This was announced via a statement issued by Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan after the supreme council meeting was adjourned.
According to Shahril, this was to enable the motion to be debated and decided "at the highest level of the party in accordance with Umno constitution".
Indeed, the highest level would mean the general assembly.
However, "major" decisions (in the past) affecting the party has always been brought to the general assembly for the delegates to decide (although many in the political fraternity believe the assembly more often than not would have been earlier swayed or coerced by the leadership in coming to decisions favorable to the party higher-ups.)
Therefore, what the information chief said is nothing new, i.e. the "highest level" is to debate and decide the motion with regards to cutting ties with Bersatu.
Hence, why then did Zahid say the call by Umno divisions to sever ties with Bersatu would be decided at the supreme council meeting?
In fact, Shahril himself had confirmed the supreme council meeting would discuss "all possibilities", through a statement issued before the meeting.
Can it be said in this instance that the supreme council has passed the buck to the assembly?
Whatever it is, as things stand, the big all-important question will be answered by the January 31 Umno general assembly.
Ilham Center executive director Hisomuddin Bakar sees it like this: "The supreme council decision is also a compromise of sorts between two groups in Umno in an effort to keep emotion in check without which will be detrimental to the party."
And according to Hisomuddin, it will also give time to convince the grassroots on the Umno leadership narrative despite the fact the majority already made it clear they want to say goodbye to Bersatu.
But with the supreme council meeting decision to bring the issue to the general assembly, the momentum at the divisional level is disrupted and the "drama" is being dragged on, says Hisomuddin.
At the same time the Ilham man says, "The decision is also a sign of weakness on the part of the Umno president. Annuar, as we know, has alleged Zahid as always flip flopping."
Still having said all that, Hisomuddin opines that one important takeaway from Wednesday's meeting is that "Umno is continuing to pressurize Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional".
We'll just have to wait and see what happens in the run-up, and of course at the general assembly itself come January 31.
An old journalist friend of mine asked what if there's a lockdown by then because of COVID-19? Will the assembly be called off?
Well, according to an Umno source, the assembly will be held "physically and virtually", meaning the top leaders will be present at PWTC under strict SOPs while delegates will be placed at halls in the various states nationwide designated by the respective state Umno.
In short, the delegates will take part in the proceedings online.
If that is the case, the show will go on come what may. What need to be answered will be answered. Right?
(Mohsin Abdullah is a veteran journalist and now a freelancer who writes about this, that and everything else.)