THE reason over Umno’s parting of the ways with Bersatu in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) Government becomes very clear now, judging from the various statements of its leaders over the past few days, and especially after its Supreme Council Meeting last Wednesday.
As pointed out by its Padang Rengas MP, Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz in an interview with Malaysiakini, all Umno wants is to force the dissolution of Parliament so that the mandate can be returned to the people via a snap general election.
Let’s for the moment assume this snap election takes place in a COVID-19 pandemic of a daily infection of a four-digit figure. Although Nazri didn’t say it in the interview, it’s very clear that the hope is for the election result to return a stable coalition Government, if not with a two-thirds majority, at least with a comfortable simple majority, presumably helmed by Umno.
At present the PN Government has a slim majority of three seats over the opposition, subjecting it to instability as it takes only four MPs to crossover for the PN Government to fall.
But even this scenario by Umno doesn’t necessarily mean the election will return a stable Government. What if the wish of Umno comes true in that the election results see Umno helming a coalition but with still a slim majority of three or four seats? Then, it will be political instability all over again.
This scenario smacks of an overconfident Umno thinking that a convincing win for Umno in a snap election or at least a win that will put it in a strong kingmaker position is a foregone conclusion. This actually may or may not happen.
Now, realising that having a snap election amidst a four-digit daily infection is not the wisest thing to do, Nazri went on to say that forcing the dissolution of Parliament need not necessarily mean Parliament will be dissolved.
“That is the King’s right. He can decide it’s not yet time to dissolve Parliament and appoint an interim Government first,” Nazri said, adding that election can wait until the COVID-19 situation improves.
But what’s the point of having an interim Government if it’s headed by Tan Sri Muhyiddin again because by convention, in the event that Parliament is dissolved, the incumbent prime minister will be appointed by the Agong as the interim or caretaker Prime Minister.
Might as well let the present status quo stays, with Muhyiddin as prime minister without the need to dissolve parliament, while waiting for a conducive time for a snap election to be held.
Or is Umno banking on the hope the caretaker prime minister appointed will not be Muhyiddin? Although it is a constitutional convention to appoint an incumbent prime minister to be the caretaker prime minister, the constitution does not expressly prohibit the King from appointing anyone to be the caretaker prime minister.
Moreover, Umno seems to be at pain in explaining the parting of the ways with Bersatu is consistent with its stance of “no Anwar, no DAP” and that it doesn’t mean Umno wants to form a Government with PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, or for that matter, DAP.
However, this makes a mockery of the stance when assuming on Jan 31, if the Umno General Assembly makes it official the parting of the ways with Bersatu, that is a sure sign of a fall in the Government because PN will be reduced to 72 seats, while Anwar with 91 will become the new prime minister.
Add this to the 39 seats of Umno, it signals the emergence of a new coalition Government, which for lack of a better name, let’s call it Barisan Pakatan (BP), with a comfortable simple majority of 130 seats.
But is this the game plan, knowing that there will be retribution from their supporters for sleeping with the enemies, come general election time?
Or could the game plan include a second phase or a sequel of ensuring Anwar won’t be the prime minister so as to be consistent with the stance of “no Anwar, no DAP”, and preventing retribution from its supporters – killing two birds with one stone.
It seems Malaysia is in for more uncertainty and instability with this sophisticated politicking – if this is indeed true – which will only be detrimental to the well-being of the country and its people.
And it’s all because of the politicians’ selfish interest in seeking power and wealth or to free themselves from the rule of law.
Signs of the negative effects of this politicking were already there for all to see. On Thursday, just a day after the Umno Supreme Council Meeting, the Malay Mail reported Bursa Malaysia opened lower, bucking the regional trend as the market’s risk appetite was curbed by renewed concerns over possible lockdowns in certain states and the uncertainties in the local political scene.
On the same day too, as if warning the politicians against politicking and to be mindful of the presence of the virus, the daily Covid-19 infections broke the 3,000 mark.
Earlier on January 6, the ever-lurking ratings agency, Fitch Solution predicted muted foreign investment as political instability weighs on Malaysia.
Jamari Mohtar is Director of Media & Communications at EMIR Research, an independent think-tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based upon rigorous research.