PH shooting itself in the foot if it pulls plug on MoU, say pundits

(FMT) – A Pakatan Harapan (PH) leader’s threat to pull the plug on the memorandum of understanding (MoU) the coalition signed with the government last September, could be a case of PH shooting itself in the foot, say pundits who believe such a move could trigger a general election.

Former Universiti Teknologi Malaysia lecturer Azmi Hassan said some factions within Umno may pressure Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to call for a general election if the cooperation ends.

That would not be good for PH, he said, based on results from the Melaka and Sarawak state elections. He said PH does not look prepared nor does it have any strategy to win elections.

The only way for PH was to back the MoU and buy time until it is able to regain the trust of Malaysians who are angry over the government’s poor handling of the floods, he said.

“They know the prime minister is at his lowest ebb due to the poor handling of the floods and for still being a nice guy to his ministers although many were holidaying abroad when several parts of the country were submerged in floods.

“Pulling the plug would be the natural thing to do but PH needs to look at the bigger picture,” he told FMT.

With the MoU intact, he said Ismail would have the support he needed to continue leading without being forced to cave in and call for elections. He urged Ismail to be firm and show more authority in running the government.

Earlier, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang said PH may rethink the MoU if the prime minister does not keep to his word. Lim said the objective of the MoU was to stop “political frog-jumping” which had “cheapened politics to a marketplace for the highest bidder”.

He was referring to the resignation of Peter Anthony from Warisan two days ago to form a new party friendly to the ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah.

Political communication expert Syed Arabi Idid said Lim’s statement may only be a “nudge” to remind the prime minister to treat the opposition well.

“PH is angry. Its leaders think: ‘how come you are treating us badly when we are supporting you at the federal level’,” he said.

However, he said it would only be considered a breaking point if the statement had come from DAP’s secretary-general Lim Guan Eng or opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

“Then, we can know for sure it has reached a critical stage and PH may pull the plug,” he added.

Another analyst Kartini Aboo Talib of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said there are advantages to the MoU as people are looking at the quality of leaders rather than the party.

For instance, she said, DAP’s Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh was popular among all races. “She is widely accepted by all,” she told FMT.

Furthermore, she said it may be best for both parties to work together to focus on the needs of the rakyat who are reeling from the floods.

“People are questioning the efficiency of the federal and the state governments. It would be best for both sides to work together and serve the rakyat to build trust,” she added.