Perikatan threatens to pull out of govt

By Joceline Tan, The Star

TAN Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is famous for being stoic but he has found it hard to hide his feelings the last few days.

His face was like a dark cloud when he emerged from a Johor Perikatan Nasional meeting in Pagoh on Thursday.

The Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president has been outplayed by Umno and his party is facing a possible wipe-out in the Johor polls.

The dissolution of the Johor state assembly hit the party like a ton of bricks. Muhyiddin is said to be seething at not being consulted even though Bersatu is a partner in the state government.

The southern state is seen as his stronghold and news that the Bersatu president is not defending his state seat in Gambir stunned everyone.

Muhyiddin said he is making way for new blood but it seemed like he was not confident of retaining the seat.

His adversaries in Umno often allude to cutting off the head to bring down Bersatu in Johor and it looks like they have done it.

Johor will be the second big showdown between Barisan Nasional and Perikatan who are partners in name, enemies at heart.

The snap polls have infuriated Perikatan leaders and at a top level meeting Wednesday night, the coalition partners discussed withdrawing support for the Federal Government.

Perikatan leaders are fed-up of being dictated to and humiliated by Umno.

They think they have little to lose and more to gain if the federal government collapses.

Some of them believe that Muhyiddin, who was unfairly ousted as prime minister, could make a comeback if Perikatan strikes out on its own.

However, pulling out would trigger a snap general election which the coalition is not exactly prepared for.

Some of the Perikatan leaders argued that they would be playing into the hands of the “mahkamah kluster” which wants an early general election.

Moreover, one should go into battle only if there is a chance of winning and the move could be a case of spitting into the wind.

Not everyone around the table was comfortable with pulling out but the voices in favour of Perikatan going its own way was apparently louder.

Although the pull-out proposal was mooted by the PAS side, the Bersatu leaders were ones who were more keen on it.

However, there was no decision when to press the hot button.

A video of PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang speaking in a rather belligerent tone in Rusila yesterday (SEE ABOVE) has been interpreted as a veiled warning that Perikatan will retaliate if Umno goes for another state election.

He slammed Umno as a duck with a broken leg that needed the support of PAS after the 2018 general election. He said the ungrateful duck was trying swim off on its own after recovering.

Hadi was referring to the string of by-elections that Umno won with the support of PAS.

“If Umno wants to play the strategy game, we will reveal our strategy when the times comes,” he said in the video.

The dissolution of the Johor assembly appears to have set off an epic firestorm.

“The opposition was in disarray,” said a Johor Baru-based journalist.

For instance, the state PAS leaders were reaching out to Umno while the local Bersatu leaders were calling out to Pakatan.

It is learnt that caretaker Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad had contemplated keeping the door open to PAS but the top Barisan leadership shot it down during a key meeting at the MB’s official residence earlier this week.

“We are not the second or third wife, we are equal partners. If PAS wants to resume ties with Umno, cut off ties with Bersatu. They know how we feel about Bersatu,” said Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

It was an open secret that Pakatan Harapan leaders have not been on the same page the last couple of years.

The fissures are out in the open now, with PKR opting for its famous “eye” emblem, while DAP and Parti Amanah Negara will use the Pakatan logo.

It is strange that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who is Pakatan chairman does not want to use the coalition logo.

Amanah deputy president Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said the Pakatan logo is not an issue.

“Even voters in Sarawak knew which bird they preferred. In Melaka, they knew which type of blue to choose,” said Salahuddin.

Two Sarawak parties used the hornbill as their logos while the Barisan and Perikatan logos are in shades of blue.

Pakatan’s choice of the MB candidate also seem to differ. Salahuddin, who is of Malay-Chinese heritage, is the likely choice of DAP and Amanah.

But former education minister Datuk Maszlee Malik’s name has gained traction in PKR after the party’s young Turk, Najwan Halimi, tweeted about Maszlee.

Perikatan is contesting 56 seats but has yet to identify their MB candidate.

Will the Johor polls be able to run smoothly with the threat of a federal pull-out in the air?

The noise from the PAS side seems to suggest that it is quite serious.

Hadi has dropped hints that “something big” will happen when he met with party leaders in recent days. He did not elaborate but asked them for support to carry it out.

The prospect of the Putrajaya government collapsing as a result of another pull-out is simply mind-boggling.

Should that happen, it will be the second time Muhyiddin has brought down a government.

He should be a gentleman politician and let his coalition enter the battle in Johor in a democratic spirit. Give it a good fight, win or lose.