Report: Sabah win could force Muhyiddin’s hand on snap election

The clashes between allies that took place in Sabah would be repeated with a greater intensity in an early general election.

(MMO) – The Sabah state election might be a pyrrhic victory for Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as it has resulted in an increasingly antagonised Umno, according to political watchers.

They said that while the convincing win was a fillip for Muhyiddin personally, it has taken a toll on the already testy-relations between his Bersatu party and nominal ally Umno.

Umno was forced to concede its claim on the post of the Sabah chief minister, yielding the position to Sabah Bersatu chief Datuk Hajiji Noor despite — as the party pointed out — having won the most state seats among the individual parties that contested.

Yesterday, Umno deputy president Datuk Mohamad Hasan openly questioned the value of his party’s cooperation with Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional, noting that it has now cost the party control of Sabah that it had once held for nearly three decades.

The agitation among sections of Umno also came amid the backdrop of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s claim of having secured a “formidable” majority with which to take over the government, including from Umno lawmakers.

“Muhyiddin emerges from the Sabah elections stronger, but until Anwar’s claim to have a majority has been disproven, there remains considerable political uncertainty.

“Subject to Covid-19 developments, the prime minister will be increasingly tempted to call early elections to capitalise on the momentum,” Eurasia Group’s Asia director, Peter Mumford, told the Straits Times.

Ahead of the state election, Muhyiddin suggested that a victory in Sabah could prompt him to hold a general election shortly after.

However, this paled in comparison to the repeated and vociferous calls from Umno for an early general election despite the party’s place in the federal government.

Yesterday, Mohamad also removed his party’s mask of conviviality towards Bersatu and PN when he openly called these “political rivals”.

It is unclear how advanced seat negotiations among Umno, PAS, and Bersatu were at the moment, but these would be unavoidably difficult as all three parties appeal primarily to the Malay electorate in the peninsula.

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