Umno will have a big say who will form next govt, say analysts

A GOVERNMENT without Umno support will risk instability and collapse as the Malay nationalist party has a sizable bloc in Parliament and a say in who will form the government, political analysts said.

They said Umno in a coalition will not want to be relegated to the back seat, where it is not able to call the shots, as is the case in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

“Umno’s preference after its 2018 defeat was always very clear. Their first choice was to be senior partner in government, second choice was to be junior partner in government and the third choice was to be the opposition.

“The ‘Sheraton move’ only upgraded Umno from the opposition to a junior partner in the government,” political scientist Wong Chin Huat told The Malaysian Insight.

Wong added that Umno’s decision yesterday to pull support for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the PN government did not come as a surprise, but it could not have been able to do so without PN’s missteps.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday announced the party had decided to withdraw support for Muhyiddin and the government.

This follows a party Supreme Council meeting in which it decided to back the king over the crisis between the government and the palace erupting after a recent dispute over emergency ordinances that were not tabled in Parliament.

Muhyiddin’s announcement earlier yesterday that the ordinances will be tabled in Parliament in September failed to placate Umno.

The Muhyiddin-led PN government has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks for misleading Parliament about revoking emergency ordinance without the king’s consent.

Political analyst Oh Ei Sun said Malaysia will have to contend with Umno at the top for the foreseeable future.

“A coalition without Umno is not stable, that we saw in Pakatan Harapan. A coalition without Umno, as a leader leading the coalition, will also not be stable.

“In other words, this country is doomed to have Umno at the top, otherwise it will not be stable, at least for the foreseeable future,” Oh said.

Umno has 38 MPs in the 220-seat Parliament. In the Muhyiddin-led administration, it holds eight ministerial and eight deputy ministerial positions.

Most recently, Ismail Sabri Yaacob was promoted to the post of deputy prime minister, while Hishammuddin Hussein assumed the post of senior minister in charge of foreign affairs.

Ilham Centre director Hisommudin Bakar said Umno can make or break a government as they are the “kingmakers”.

“Umno has a significant number of lawmakers, they are the kingmakers (in any coalition).

“It is also evident that the party’s president is still in command of the party as he is able to ensure the Supreme Council’s decision is in line with his.

“This shows that Umno has made up its mind to leave PN even though it had accepted the post of deputy prime minister,” he said.

The Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition lost the 14th general election in 2018 after being in power for more than 60 years.

PH, which took over from BN, collapsed after 19 months in power following the resignation of prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed and the exit of Bersatu from the coalition.

Bersatu, which is led by Muhyiddin, subsequently formed a tenuous coalition with Umno. This tempestuous relationship has now come to an end after 17 months, which could see the collapse of the PN government.

What now for Umno ministers in Muhyiddin’s cabinet

Barely moments had passed since the Lenggong MP’s bombshell when Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said his party has presented evidence to Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah to show which of its MPs have withdrawn support for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.Zahid said Muhyiddin’s position as prime minister has lost its legitimacy and that he should resign.

Umno, the largest party in the ruling coalition has 38 MPs, but Zahid today did not state how many had signed statutory declarations withdrawing their support for Muhyiddin.

He said it was a matter of hours or days before his fellow lawmakers left the cabinet.

However, the Pontian MP did not name which of his colleagues would do so.

After Shamsul’s departure, Umno will have eight ministers in the cabinet: Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob; Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein; Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin; Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa; Health Minister Dr Adham Baba; Higher Education Minister Noraini Ahmad; Youth and Sports Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican; and National Unity Minister Halimah Mohamed Sadique.

Among them, Ismail Sabri, Hishammuddin and Annuar Musa are those who have publicly and repeatedly voiced their backing for Muhyiddin.

However, even within the past 48 hours, Ismail Sabri has said that 40 Barisan Nasional MPs will continue to back the Muhyiddin government, as rumours swirled about its imminent collapse.

Meanwhile, besides the nine ministers, Umno also has eight deputy ministers: Mastura Mohd Yazid (deputy minister in the prime minister’s department), Mohd Shahar Abdullah (deputy finance minister II), Ismail Mohamed Said (deputy minister of home affairs I), Ahmad Masrizal Muhmammad (deputy minister of environment and water), Ahmad Hamzah (deputy minister of agriculture and food industries I), Ismail Abdul Muttalib (deputy minister of housing and local government), Abdul Rahman Mohamad (deputy minister of rural development), and Zahidi Zainul Abidin (deputy minister of communication and multimedia).  TMI