MPs movement to Umno seen under Ismail Sabri premiership

Party hopping may occur as Umno would want to cement their position in the constituencies where former members won under Bersatu’s ticket back in GE14

by ASILA JALIL & SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic by BERNAMA

PARTI Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s MPs who were formerly in Umno may revert to their old party ahead of the 15th General Election (GE15) if Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (picture) is appointed as the ninth prime minister (PM).

Analysts opined that party hopping may occur as Umno would want to cement their position in the constituencies where their former members have won under Bersatu’s ticket back in GE14.

University of Malaya political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said although elements of the previous Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) administration will be prioritised if the former deputy PM becomes PM, Umno is expected to strengthen its power in the coalition over time.

“At one point, Umno is expected to strengthen its position and will become the most powerful party. We will then see cracks between Bersatu and Umno resurface.

“If Ismail Sabri becomes PM, Bersatu will be less dominant as more of their grassroot members are expected to return to Umno, which would make it difficult for Bersatu to establish its position in the coalition,” he told

The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) yesterday. Umno currently has 38 MPs, where 23 of them are under Ismail Sabri’s faction which is aligned with PN, while the remaining 15 are with party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Meanwhile, Bersatu has 31 MPs.

Among former Umno members who joined Bersatu include Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin, Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee and Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

Awang Azman said a new government led by Ismail Sabri may also be similar to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s previous administration if the new Cabinet members are appointed just to repay their favour for supporting Ismail Sabri.

To ensure a clear distinction between both administrations and gain lasting support until GE15, he said the new government can appoint fewer Cabinet members who are more efficient and practice a new political culture.

“They should also be brave in letting go of former Cabinet members who did not perform in the old PN administration,” he said.

Following Muhyiddin’s resignation from the top post on Monday, several names popped up as PM candidates including Opposition leader and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Tengku Mohd Hamzah.

The possible candidates were then reduced to Ismail Sabri and Anwar after reports claimed they had garnered the most support based on the statutory declarations presented to the King from all 220 MPs on Wednesday, with the former leading the race.

Umno secretary general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan yesterday confirmed that 114 MPs had shown their support for Ismail Sabri, which means he has a slim majority out of the 222 seats in Parliament.

However, Muhyiddin said the support given to Ismail Sabri is conditional, as long as the Cabinet members appointed consist of MPs with integrity, responsible and free from any court cases.

“The PN government under his leadership must continue respecting the principle of power separation, protect the independence of the judiciary and uphold the concept of Constitutional Monarchy,” Muhyiddin added.

Universiti Utara Malaysia political analyst Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said Bersatu is currently in a critical situation due to its dependency on Muhyiddin, who is now dubbed as the PM with a “failed legacy”.

He said Bersatu managed to establish its position in GE14 mainly due to support from Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) machinery and financial assistance.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also played a vital role as the party’s former chairman in attracting voters during GE14.

“Muhyiddin needs to change the public’s perception of him, which was actually formed by those in PN, especially Umno members.

“For Bersatu to remain in power, they would need to compromise with Umno so that they have a position in the coalition. There is a possibility for its members who were formerly in Umno to re-join Umno because Umno would be dominant if Ismail Sabri is PM,” Mohd Azizuddin told TMR.

With a slim majority as of now, the possible administration under Ismail Sabri will not have a strong foundation, similar to the previous PN government.

Universiti Putra Malaysia Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Izani Mohd Zain said Ismail Sabri’s position as PM would be threatened if MPs pull their support.

“Hopefully, the political alliance formed to choose the new PM, and ultimately a new government, will remain until GE15 to avoid any political crisis.”

Meanwhile, PH is expected to maintain its position as the Opposition bloc as it prepares itself for GE15.

Mohd Azizuddin said PH is able to form a strong coalition ahead of the election as they could form ties with Parti Pejuang Tanah Air and Parti Warisan Sabah to gather more support.

“They still have the chance to win the next GE, which is their aim as they make the necessary preparations.”

Mohd Izani, however, opined that PH should consider a new candidate to represent the party as PM because Anwar has been unable to attract support.

“PH still failed to put their candidate as the next PM. It is time for the bloc to seek other alternatives besides Anwar to be their PM candidate.”

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