Even if the Umno-PAS coalition renounces their support for the 95-year-old leader, Dr Mahathir still has enough backing, says analyst
by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI
INTERIM Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad still has command of the majority to be re-appointed as Malaysia’s next PM despite a show of protest by Umno leaders late yesterday.
In the latest turn of events, the long-ruling Malay party went on the offensive by insisting on a snap election, should the composition of a new ruling government include DAP.
Universiti Putra Malaysia associate Prof Dr Mohd Izani Mohd Zain highlighted that Umno’s ultimatum was primarily to give the red light to DAP and not Dr Mahathir.
However, if the Umno-PAS coalition decides to renounce their support for the 95-year-old leader, Dr Mahathir still has enough backing.
“If they opt not to support Dr Mahathir, he will lose 60 parliamentary seats. But if others firmly support Dr Mahathir, he can still be appointed as PM and form a government. If the support is not solid, then there will be trouble,” Mohd Izani told The Malaysian Reserve.
He said there is no denying that Dr Mahathir is a figure that can be accepted by many, if not all.
“Politics is about the present and dealing with reality. This is a reality we must admit. In fact, even under Pakatan Harapan (PH), the Opposition was expressing support for Dr Mahathir with PAS planning to push a vote of confidence. In this context, the candidate for PM is clear,” Mohd Izani said.
He said Dr Mahathir’s resignation was only to make way for a new mandate to be given to him as he is no longer the leader of PH.
Speaking about the potential composition of the new Cabinet, Mohd Izani said it would likely be a unique combination of technocrats and MPs from various parties.
“It would be interesting to see how the new Cabinet will take shape. There is a high chance that it will include leaders from Umno and PAS. Umno is widely experienced in governance, but PAS leadership has been limited to state affairs — so I’m interested to see if it would unfold.
“There are also options from non-politicians who can be elected as senators. It doesn’t necessarily have to be from among politicians. So, we hope there can be a bit of variety in the new Cabinet which can give hope to the rakyat,” he added.
Mohd Izani also expects the size of the Cabinet will be kept at a similar number.
“We are a developing country. If you compare the number of ministries we have against those in developed countries, like in the US and the UK, ours are bigger. That is because they are developed. Malaysia needs more ministries because there are more areas to look into.
“PH tried to reduce the figure to cut costs, but that did not happen because it is a necessity. We still have a lot on our agenda that we would like to achieve economically, socially, in education, tourism and others,” he said.