Trouble foreseen when Dewan votes on budget

Parliament’s lower house had been rendered unstable by Umno’s decision against formally joining Perikatan Nasional (PN).

(FMT) – A political analyst foresees trouble in the Dewan Rakyat during its forthcoming session, when the national budget for 2021 is scheduled to be tabled.

Speaking to FMT, Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya said Parliament’s lower house had been rendered unstable by Umno’s decision against formally joining Perikatan Nasional (PN).

He said some MPs from Umno might not be present to vote during the tabling of Budget 2021 and this could lead to the dissolution of Parliament.

But Wong Chin Huat of the Penang Institute said the pullout might have an effect opposite to the one Umno was hoping. “It might strengthen Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his party, PPBM.”

He said it might even cause a split in Umno because party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s announcement of the pullout might not have represented the desire of the entire party.

Wong also said Umno would not be able to topple Muhyiddin’s government without the support of the opposition.

He said he did not believe the speaker would fast-track any motion of no confidence or that the opposition would team up with former prime minister Najib Razak and his allies to submit statutory declarations against Muhyiddin to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Furthermore, he added, Muhyiddin could overcome Umno’s absence during the vote on the budget with a “confidence and supply agreement” with the opposition.

“Zahid may have hoped that this move will help overturn Najib’s conviction in the High Court and avoid conviction for the rest of the leaders facing charges for corruption, including himself,” he said.

“But it’s not just the young Turks like Khairy Jamaluddin who want the party to move on. Also, senior leaders like Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Annuar Musa may not have much to gain from the rehabilitation and return of Najib and Zahid.”

He also said PN’s loss of a majority was not equivalent to a loss of Parliament’s confidence in it.

Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia said Zahid’s announcement would subdue the unhappiness of the Umno grassroots over Muhyiddin’s hands-off approach towards Najib.

“The first test of this decision will be the Slim by-election,” he said. “Previously, Umno would field its candidate representing PN, but now things have changed.”

He said PN might maintain its status quo if PPBM was accepted as a member of Muafakat Nasional, the collaboration between Umno and PAS.

He described Muafakat Nasional as a stronger and more influential alliance than PN.

In his announcement yesterday, Zahid said Umno would continue to support the federal government as well as several state governments.

Zahid said the decision against joining PN was made at an Umno Supreme Council meeting on July 24.

When asked if the decision was related to Najib’s corruption conviction, he said it was “up to the media to interpret it”.

Najib was found guilty on Tuesday of seven counts of corruption and abuse of power in relation to RM42 million belonging to former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International. He was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million.