Political analysts: New PM likely to remain on shaky ground with support of just 115 MPs

(MMO) – Malaysia will continue to be plagued by instability if the next prime minister can only garner the support of 115 MPs, a little more than the minimum number needed for a simple majority in Parliament, according to political analysts.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has summoned 114 MPs to Istana Negara today to verify their support for one of the two publicly named nominees for prime ministership: Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. The other contender is Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Citing three analysts, Singapore daily Straits Times reported today that the King may propose a unity government to end a recurrence of the current political divisions that have scored deep lines in Malaysia and impeded recovery from the Covid-19 health crisis — at least until the general election can be held with less risks.

“We expect that the King will call the selected MP and ask if you are ready to become PM and form a unity government,” University of Malaya associate professor Awang Azman Awang Pawi was quoted as saying.

“If the figure remains at 115, the new government will be as fragile, shaky and unstable as the Muhyiddin administration, because there will be cross-party conflict,” he added.

Awang Azman suggested a unity government as a solution to the current leadership crisis, noting that Malaysians were not keen on seeing the same politicians assume positions in the next government.

“People do not want old wine in a new bottle. People want to change the bus, not just the driver. So, in the end, a unity government should be formed to ensure no conflicts. People want a new formula to end the Covid-19 pandemic, lower unemployment, and boost the economy,” he was quoted as saying.

Another analyst James Chin told Straits Times that the new government would be less shaky if the ninth PM could get at least 125 MPs to back him.

“For a stable government, he will need… at least 125 or 130 and above,” the director of Asia Institute Tasmania at the University of Tasmania was quoted saying.

Two main contenders have been publicly named for prime ministership. One is Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who was appointed deputy prime minister just a few months ago before the collapse of the Muhyiddin Cabinet last Monday.

The other candidate is Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who has been waiting in the wings for a long time.

“If Ismail Sabri were to win now, his coalition would be a very shaky one indeed,” Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun told Straits Times.

“Some, if not all, within Bersatu, are not happy that they are now relegated to essentially number two in the ruling coalition and they would like to shake the tree. Another possibility is that there are those in Umno who are not happy with Ismail Sabri, and would like to replace him,” Oh added.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong have summoned 114 MPs to Istana Negara here for an audience today to verify their support for Ismail.

The MPs are those from Umno, MCA, MIC, PAS, Bersatu and Sarawak state ruling coalition Gabungan Parti Sarawak.