Muhyiddin gets a lifeline but is still in the water

And they will use Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Harapan to create instability.

P Gunasegaram, The Vibes

UMNO’S decision to support Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government has thrown a lifeline to the prime minister battling the strong currents surging around him but he is not out of the water yet.

If all of Umno decisively withdrew support for him, he would have gone because his slim majority would have evaporated into a massive shortfall. In the event the Umno Supreme Council’s decision to support him early this morning, while saving him, comes with conditions such as greater representation in government which may be difficult to meet.

On top of that a marathon four-hour session, a brief six-point statement at the end of the meeting, and a rather reticent (unusually) bunch of supreme council members, including some cabinet ministers, has to indicate a stormy encounter. Who is to say that defections are not possible?

Muhyiddin still needs to avoid a vote of no confidence which may materialise through the passage or not of the budget in Parliament early next month. That will be crucial to his continuance as prime minister. If that bill does not pass, it is in effect a vote of no confidence and Muhyiddin will have to step down.

But before considering that, why did Umno’s Supreme Council reject working with Pakatan Harapan early this morning? There are at least two reasons – one, working with DAP might affect their election chances when they are eventually held. After demonising DAP it does not look good to be working with them.

Two, they want an election at the end of the day, not someone else out of Umno to become prime minister. The sooner the better – they think given current circumstances, they will come on top. But it may not pan out as expected. The big thing will be the division of seats.

There are major problems likely here as all three – Umno, Bersatu and PAS – will clamour for more seats to be given to them. This could split asunder the PN coalition or at the very least result in multiple candidates from the PN coalition for a significant number of seats.

Also, Umno effectively being kingmaker will continue to destabilise PN especially if the Covid-19 threat recedes. Umno will then again threaten the majority of the PN coalition by simply saying it will pull out of the coalition.

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