Umno-PN break-up may push PM to restrategise with Opposition

Muhyiddin has the upper hand to negotiate with other parties to keep the government, experts say


THE break-up of Umno from the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government would not trigger an immediate snap election, but Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) could restrategise to retain in power, experts said.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia senior lecturer (political study) Dr Mazlan Ali said the government would not fall with Umno leaving PN, as Muhyiddin has the upper hand to negotiate with other parties to keep the government.

“I think Muhyiddin is immune to this. The ball is still in Umno’s court because the party decided in the assembly, and if they do not act and really use the power mandated, people would see it (assembly) as irrelevant, ‘no action, talk only’,” Mazlan told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in a phone interview yesterday.

“We need to remember that as the PM, Muhyiddin would have his options open, which include dragging Parliament to its full term instead of surrendering his power for snap election.

“He can still negotiate with other pacts, or even individuals and offer Cabinet posts left by Umno. It is his prerogative,” he added.

In the Umno General Assembly 2020 (PAU) held over the weekend, the party decided to cut ties with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia in the 15th General Election (GE15).

The delegation at PAU agreed to give their mandate to the supreme council and president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to decide the timeframe when Umno should pull out from the pack and press Muhyiddin to dissolve the Parliament.

However, Mazlan said the pressure instead has always been on Umno’s side to prove its mettle.

Mazlan predicts that Muhyiddin may invite Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, or former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and individual MPs from PKR and Parti Amanah Negara who are aligned to Senior Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

“This is yet to include those Umno MPs in the Cabinet who may stick with Muhyiddin after Umno pulls its plug,” said Mazlan.

In a statement following PAU, Umno supreme council Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah said he is ready to vacate his minister post at the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.

Umno woman chief and Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Noraini Ahmad also echoed similar sentiments.

The Malay-based party also hinted that Muhyiddin has until Aug 1 — the day the Emergency ends — before the party decides to withdraw their support.

“But, four months are too long and Muhyiddin has many options in his hands, including opting to make Umno illegal,” said Universiti Malaya political analyst Associate Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi.

“The matter was brought up when Muhyiddin was Home Minister during Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) ruling and based on court evidence, Umno is also the beneficiary of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal,” he added.

Besides that, Awang Azman also did not dismiss the possibility that cases from “court clusters” of Umno leaders may be sped up and concluded before August.

Political scientist Prof Wong Chin Huat, however, feels Muhyiddin would not go as far as deregistering Umno, to avoid backlash.

“If Muhyiddin chooses to deregister Umno as how Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak did with Bersatu on the eve of GE14, Umno will gain sympathy.

“Its supporters may take it to the streets, and it may also justify a pact between Umno and PH. Also, Umno ministers may pull out immediately and this may weaken the PM’s position. I don’t think Muhyiddin would take such a dramatic step,” he told TMR.

“The more logical option is to be realistic, buy time and space to finish his remaining term with minimum interruption, with a ‘confidence and supply agreement’ (CSA) with the Opposition,” Wong said.

This was backed by the fact that the pandemic would be a convenient excuse for both Bersatu and the Opposition, which would not want an election now.

“Since Umno’s open rejection of a pact with PH has destroyed any hope for a counter-coup, a CSA that gives Opposition MPs equal funding and an empowered Parliament that allows the Opposition to give real input in policy and law-making would be desirable for the Opposition,” he said.

Read our previous report here

Withdraw support from Bersatu once GE15 begins: Noraini