UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s call for the government not to delay a motion of confidence for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is a calculated move to demand more respect for the party in Perikatan Nasional, said analysts.
They said this also put pressure on Muhyiddin to call for a snap election, which Umno had been hoping for.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) analyst Mazlan Ali said this Umno was starting to act as an “agent for checks and balances” in Muhyiddin’s administration.
“The signal from Zahid shows that Umno’s (support) is not as strong as the other PN parties’.”
“All this means Umno is not fully behind the government,” Mazlan said.
He said the outcome of the vote on the supply bill would determine the future of PN as the ruling pact.
“It is unusual for Umno to say it wants to play the role of checks and balances. It shows that Umno will not defend PN if it does something wrong.”
Mazlan said he did not expect the confidence motion to see the light of day, however, as Muhyiddin was aware he could fail the floor test.
“Zahid’s proposal is quite critical – if you want us to pass the budget, you have to bring forward the motion of confidence in the prime minister.
“In any case, it all amounts to the same thing: if the budget bill fails, it means the prime minister does not have the majority.”
Earlier this week, Zahid, who is Barisan Nasional chairman, called for the PN government to bring forward a motion of confidence for Muhyiddin.
He said the prime minister should seek to establish the MPs’ confidence in his leadership.
Twenty-four MPs filed a motion of no confidence in the prime minister ahead of the parliament session this month.
Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun, however, said none of the motions would be debated as the chamber would focus on government business.
Muhyiddin in a corner
Universiti Malaya lecturer Mohamad Tawfik Yaakub said Zahid was trying to claim a more assertive and dominant role for Umno in the coalition.
He said this was because Umno had been too tolerant from the start and that Bersatu had taken advantage of its willingness to negotiate.
This had caused Umno to be viewed as unimportant, he said.
“Only one Umno vice-president was appointed minister. Even the president and deputy president were not given a government post,” he said.
“The Umno leadership is now adding pressure on Muhyiddin in various and more subtle ways.”
As it would be too obviously confrontational for Zahid to ask for a no-confidence vote, insisting on a confidence motion was the way to go, he said.
“The objective is the same for both.
“Umno’s strategy to ensure that the party is respected and to pressure PN to hold elections.”
Analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi in Universiti Malaya said Umno was setting up the prime minister.
“A confidence vote amounts to the same thing as a no-confidence vote,” he said.
“I would like to see who supports Muhyiddin.”
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT