Frictions in Perikatan Nasional throw premiership up in the air

Fresh cracks beginning to appear as happy ‘marriage’ between Umno and PAS becomes more complicated

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & AFIQ AZIZ / pic by BERNAMA

MIXED signals coming from within the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition have thrown the premiership up in the air as Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s razor-thin majority remains in question.

The public is finally getting a glimpse of the multiple factions that exist within Umno, the largest party in the ruling coalition, as political leaders go their own way. Party veteran Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh Hamzah’s surprising disclosure on Wednesday evening raised further doubts on Muhyiddin’s grip on power, leaving observers wondering how many others are in for the country’s top job.

Fresh cracks are beginning to appear in Muhyiddin’s already fragile coalition. In what had been largely depicted as a happy “marriage” between Umno and PAS has turned out to be a relationship that could be deemed as more complicated.

In a short statement yesterday, PAS secretary general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan urged for unity in “His Majesty’s government”. The de facto law minister said Muhyiddin’s government should be given full support and must act collectively and responsibly by giving utmost priority to the wellbeing of the people, given the recurrence of Covid-19 infections in the country.

“The Cabinet comprising members of Barisan Nasional (BN), PN, GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak), PAS and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah must act collectively and responsibly by prioritising and focusing on the people’s welfare,” he said.

The statement raised alarm bells over the might of the Muafakat Nasional (MN) pact, whose members had even encouraged the idea of formalising the union through actual marriages as a show of strength. Umno and PAS MPs in total account for a quarter of the 222 parliamentary seats.

Umno had earlier expressed its intention to pull out of the PN coalition amid speculation that several MPs were among those who support Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s bid to topple Muhyiddin’s government.

Umno secretary general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan said the party was mulling the idea of withdrawing its support for PN as it also seeks to expedite the registration of MN as a legitimate coalition.

Party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was scheduled to have an audience with the King on Wednesday, but a palace official said all meetings with the King have been postponed for two weeks as the country battles to control the spread of the disease in major hotspots.

At the same time, Tengku Razaleigh revealed he had sought for a no-confidence vote against Muhyiddin last month, on the eve of a crucial state election in Sabah.

In a letter dated Sept 25 to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, Tengku Razaleigh requested for assurance that the motion tabled against Muhyiddin would be given priority when the house reconvenes on Nov 2. The bold disclosure was made a day after his audience with the King.

Tan Sri Annuar Musa told reporters yesterday that Tengku Razaleigh had every right as an MP to seek for a no-confidence vote against the PM. The BN secretary general, however, declined to comment further on his party’s decision to give an ultimatum to the ruling government.

Annuar said the meeting has decided that only Umno’s secretary general can comment on the matter.

“At the BN level, there is no meeting called for this matter, so there are no updates. There are no directions given as of now.”

Annuar said he was also confused over the sudden craze for power and positions that have “taken precedence” over the agenda to protect the people’s lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, during this difficult period, those who have been entrusted by the people and have vast experiences in politics are the ones who are eager to think about their positions, more than to serve the people.”