Umno stands to win big if Anwar achieves plan, say PH insiders, analysts

(FMT) – Umno stands to win the most if opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim gets to form the next government, say Pakatan Harapan (PH) insiders and analysts.

They say a number of Umno MPs are supporting Anwar in the hope that his move will trigger fresh elections, which the party can capitalise on.

According to a PH leader, 12 to 15 Umno MPs have so far pledged their support for Anwar, and others from Sabah and Sarawak are waiting for him to have an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

“Umno MPs are backing Anwar with the intention of triggering fresh elections as soon as possible, and may be eyeing to take over the country by getting a bigger mandate.

“These are the MPs who do not want PPBM to lead the coalition,” the leader, who asked not to be named, told FMT.

He said the “current understanding” is for Anwar to be the prime minister and an Umno MP to be made his deputy.

“This would also depend on how many Sabah and Sarawak MPs join the new coalition.”

Another PH leader said Anwar currently has the backing of 38 MPs from PKR, 42 from DAP, 11 from Amanah and nine from Warisan, excluding those from Umno and Sabah and Sarawak expected to join him.

“PPBM may have to think of ways to stay relevant while the jostling is going on or it may be crushed,” he said.

Political analyst Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya said the next few weeks would be crucial as the nation waits for Anwar’s further announcements after his audience with the Agong.

However, Awang Azman hoped that whatever new coalition is formed will not trigger snap elections as the country is still exposed to the dangers of Covid-19.

“The next general election is only due until 2023. Let us wait till then and focus on bringing down the number of cases as well as improving the economy,” he said.

James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said Anwar has yet to show the number of MPs supporting him.

“Even those supporting him now might switch at the last minute,” Chin told FMT.

But assuming that the majority of MPs support Anwar, he said, Anwar and Umno would be the biggest winners if the Perikatan Nasional-led government falls.

“Almost everyone wrote him off after several attempts to become the prime minister. Now, if he has the numbers, he will make a comeback,” he said.

Yesterday, at a press conference, Anwar claimed that he had the majority support to form a new government.

“The support I have is conclusive. I’m not talking about four, five or six (new MPs supporting him), I’m talking about much more than that,” he said.

Istana Negara confirmed later that the Agong had consented to grant an audience to Anwar yesterday, but it was postponed after the king was admitted to the National Heart Institute (IJN).