PH now is adjusting itself as the government with a number of setbacks that deterred it from fulfilling its manifesto, while BN leaders are suffering a crisis of identity and confidence to function as the opposition for the first time in six decades.

Political dynamics often leave an indelible mark year after year due Malaysians' deep interest in statecraft, but none as prominent as 2018 which saw Barisan Nasional's first national polls defeat for the first time in six decades.

The loss also led to a diaspora of former allies; the multiracial Gerakan and a host of Sabah- and Sarawak-based parties left a tattered and severely weakened BN.

Today, the coalition's image has been rendered into a political pariah due to a myriad of graft allegations surrounding the former administration's sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

The giant's fall is certainly shocking but nonetheless predicted by many, who saw its defence whittled down by Pakatan Harapan's three-year-long aggressive campaign led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his crusade against what he dubbed a "kleptocratic government".

Despite receiving glowing reports over expansive and expensive people-centric programmes tailored to showcase BN's sustainability and prowess, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was reportedly to be in a state of disbelief with the 14th general election's (GE14) results on May 9.

A defeated and disgraced Najib subsequently stepped down as BN chairman and Umno president the very next day and was replaced by his loyal deputy Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

What entailed the following months are a host of difficulties faced by each side of the divide in adapting to the new political landscape.

PH now is adjusting itself as the government with a number of setbacks that deterred it from fulfilling its manifesto, while BN leaders are suffering a crisis of identity and confidence to function as the opposition for the first time in six decades.

However, due to the political dynamism, any newsman worth his salt would inform readers that the aftermath of GE14, the following numerous by-elections, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's momentous return to parliament as Port Dickson MP and rise as PKR president, are simply old news.

As the year reaches its end, all eyes now are trained on the gross instability within Umno, which has resulted in an en masse resignation of its members of parliament and defection of grassroots members to Dr Mahathir's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

At the centre of the mess, stood a defiant Zahid fighting salvos launched by detractors who were ever so ferociously questioning his ability to run a tight ship and direct a party with ebbing morale.

If Zahid gave in to pressure and resign, his tenure as Umno president will arguably become the briefest in the party's history. Otherwise, experts say Umno is risking a stagnant, or worse, debilitating support from within its own ranks.

Political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian agrees that despite PH's historic victory at the polls, the troubles plaguing Umno will cap the year in politics.

The question, however, Sivamurugan said, is whether Umno will decide to reform its lines through a contest of personalities, or a review in the party's struggles.

"The party will collapse on its own should there be no changes at the top. It needs a leader with reputable integrity. Only then the party can rebuild itself.

"But will the change take place through a battle of personalities, or through a collective look into reviewing its struggles? Will they look into the bigger picture?"

From the 54 seats it won in the election, it is now left with 37. Umno bigwigs including Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamad and Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin have left, citing deviation of party struggles and as voiced out loudly by the latter, Zahid must resign.

Zahid's nexus with Pas leaders - which culminated into a rally which opposes the ratification of International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, or ICERD - have nonetheless have failed to win accolades from his detractors.

The critics are hardly impressed, despite the tens of thousands who gathered at the rally, due to the impression of Zahid desperately kowtowing to P

as leaders in exchange for support from the conservatives.

Voices of dissent grew stronger after the rally. His efforts to rally hardliners as a new political force was not enough to instill confidence among party members.

On 18, Zahid bowed before mounting pressure to step aside from the party's leadership. He handed over the reins to his deputy Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan or Tok Mat and effectively retreating into the bushes.

As 2018 draws to an end, the political spectrum continues to widen and bearing new shades of outlook, especially in the opposition camp, with Umno at its frontlines.

Political observers and enthusiasts alike have displayed their interest in the evolution and dynamics of Umno. The party is, after all, has an illustrious background which goes back to the country's formation.

Can Umno reinvent itself to be a party for the future? The weight of the world is certainly on Tok Mat's shoulders now. Many are banking on his experience as a former corporate man to salvage over what is left of Umno's reputation.

As of now, it is likely that the party will be fighting fires over the legacies of Najib and Zahid well into the first quarter of next year. The naysayers will not go down easily as long as Umno remains the largest opposition party at the parliament.

And the growing number of critics will not be halved with a snap of the fingers.