PETALING JAYA: Intense negotiations among Umno, PAS and PPBM have resulted in the strengthening of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s position, according to insiders.
The insiders said Umno MPs who had gained positions and perks after the formation of Perikatan Nasional in February but had wavered over a greater role for Umno were now leaning towards Muhyiddin.
However, they said the situation was still fluid, although for now, it appeared as if Muhyiddin could squeeze enough support to remain prime minister if a no-confidence motion was allowed in Parliament.
One insider said that up to 26 Umno MPs, who had been rewarded by Muhyiddin with positions, were in favour of Muhyiddin as the prime minister. The party has 39 MPs.
Also, he said, several Umno MPs were afraid their grassroots supporters might not like it if they were seen to be working with DAP, which would almost certainly happen if they were to back PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister.
But all was not smooth sailing yet for Muhyiddin, he said.
“The talks from Friday between PPBM and Umno leaders have reached a deadlock because of differences in opinion between a handful of Umno leaders and a handful of PPBM leaders,” he said.
Part of the deadlock was due to PPBM’s objection to demands laid out by Umno leaders, said the insider.
On Oct 13, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was granted an audience with the King where he presented documents to show he had the support of the majority of MPs and should be given a chance to form a new government.
There was an admission from Umno president Zahid Hamidi that some Umno MPs were indeed backing Anwar. Also, in recent days, Umno leaders had said they were considering pulling out of the governing coalition if Muhyiddin did not agree to their demands.
It is learned that the demands include the appointment of an Umno leader as deputy prime minister, and several “strategic” ministries to be helmed by Umno MPs.
The demands surfaced after Umno claimed it was being treated unfairly in Perikatan Nasional, triggered by Muhyiddin’s decision to back the appointment of a PPBM leader as Sabah chief minister instead of an Umno leader.
The insider added that the Umno MPs were still willing to work with Anwar and trigger a general election once the number of Covid-19 cases dropped – but without DAP in the new government.
Another insider privy to the talks said PAS was swinging towards Muhyiddin, and away from Umno.
“They were close to Umno but they are not sure if they can retain their Cabinet positions if they support Umno’s move to back Anwar,” he said.
However, the insider said PAS will keep its doors open for Umno as a way to be the kingmaker before the 15th general election.
He said, however, the latest swing in Umno MPs supporting Muhyiddin could change again if Umno could forge a better deal with Anwar.
“There are a lot of intense negotiations with Umno MPs considering whether to support Muhyiddin to be the prime minister till the next GE (general election) in 2023 or to support Anwar and trigger elections after Covid-10 settles,” he said.
The new Dewan Rakyat meeting starts on Nov 2, with the 2021 Budget scheduled to be tabled four days later.
Several opposition leaders have submitted no-confidence motions against Muhyiddin.
FREE MALAYSIA TODAY