Universiti Malaya’s Prof Awang Azman Awang Pawi and political analyst Hisomuddin Bakar told The Malaysian Insight that Muhyiddin is currently hanging on to his Abah image to stay afloat in the country’s political scene, but that is not permanent.
“Win or lose in Sabah, he definitely must call for an election as soon as possible,” said Awang.
He had said the state election was vital as it would decide the future political landscape of the country.
“At the national level, we have not decided when the general election should be called…but if we win the state election in Sabah, we should quickly hold the general election,” the Pagoh MP had said.
Perikatan Nasional, its allies from Barisan Nasional and parties from Sabah are currently campaigning against Warisan Plus, led by Parti Warisan Sabah president Mohd Shafie Apdal and his allies from Pakatan Harapan.
The Muhyiddin-led pact, however, is facing internal disputes after several local parties aligned with him decided to also contest in seats being contested by PN candidates. They are also unable to reach a consensus on the chief minister candidate.
There are also strong undercurrents between Umno and Bersatu as they head into polling next Saturday. This is a continuation of the tense relationship between these two parties in the peninsula.
To add to the political tension for Muhyiddin, Awang said the people will soon face the harsh reality of the loan moratorium ending on September 30.
He said with the unstable global economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Muhyiddin cannot wait any longer.
“He cannot continue to keep giving money to the people and he knows this.
“So, let’s say he wins (Sabah), he cannot wait to have snap polls because the people will soon realise they are in deep trouble. The moratorium is going to end soon, and the world’s economy is not looking so great either.
“It is vital for him to have it (GE15) sooner before the people start getting angry and he becomes unpopular,” said the senior lecturer from the Malay studies faculty.
Hisomuddin, the executive director for Ilham Centre, said the PN government cannot afford to continue handing out cash aid to the people.
Awang said Muhyiddin’s announcement of a probable early election was simply a message meant for Umno-led BN to stay loyal to PN.
“He wants BN, especially Umno, to work harder in Sabah before they go to the general election and he wants their loyalty,” Awang said.
Hisomuddin, meanwhile, felt Muhyiddin’s announcement was a form of pressure on BN.
“He wants BN to stick with PN. He is telling them he can go into an election with his current image and good ratings. He wants BN to toe the line,” Hisomuddin said.
A recent Merdeka Centre survey revealed seven out of 10 Malaysian voters were satisfied with Muhyiddin’s performance as prime minister.
Its head of research, Ibrahim Suffian, said nine out of 10 Malays and Bumiputeras from Sabah and Sarawak gave him the thumbs-up.
Universiti Malaya senior lecturer Dr Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub, however, told The Malaysian Insight that in all probability, Muhyiddin has already set the date of the general election while campaigning in Sabah.
He said the announcements of big programmes by Muhyiddin in the state are a run-up to the budget announcement on November 6, in preparation for early polls.
“He has it in his mind because he has the people’s support, especially through the cash aid given during the pandemic,” said Tawfik.
Muhyiddin had said Sabah would be the biggest beneficiary of the infrastructure development project under the government’s National Digital Network initiative with an estimated cost of RM2.45 billion.
Another big project will be Gerbang Sabah, the internet connection point between Sabah and the rest of the world.
He also unveiled plans to help Sabahans affected economically by the pandemic, provided GRS comes into power.
Tawfik predicted the general election will be held as early as in October, way before the budget.
“November and December will be difficult because of the monsoon season,” the academic said.
“Muhyiddin will also want to use the momentum from victory in Sabah.”
Prof Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia said PN would still need the BN coalition to enter the general election.
“They cannot go alone as PN. They need BN. BN may not join PN but they know if they want to form a government, they need to cooperate.
“If they can win in Sabah, local parties may join the coalition to become a super coalition and that will be a morale boost for Muhyiddin and PN.
“That will be a good indicator for an election because they would have a really good chance to win,” Azizuddin added.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT