An explosion in Umno is about to go off

The Johor state election may be the deciding factor. If Barisan Nasional sweeps two-thirds of the seats, or more, (like in the recent Melaka state election), expect Ismail Sabri to be subjected to pressure to dissolve parliament to make way for GE15 — even if the MoU or ceasefire agreement says the government will run until July 2022.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Five months ago, the Barisan Nasional-led government signed what can be regarded as a ceasefire agreement with the opposition Pakatan Harapan. After the collapse of two governments in just over three years, this ceasefire would, more or less, ensure that this third government of Ismail Sabri Yaakob will not face that same fate and collapse even faster than the two previous governments — which were only 22 months and 17 months in office respectively.

The details of this MoU or ceasefire agreement can be seen below, but basically it means Pakatan Harapan will not push for a vote of no confidence against Ismail Sabri in parliament and the opposition will help keep the prime minister in office until at least July 2022.

Umno, however, or some in Umno dubbed as the ‘Court Cluster’, want the general election or GE15 to he held as soon as possible. They are worried that once their court cases are over it will be too late, as they would most likely already be in jail. Hence expect them to push for parliament to be dissolved as soon as the Johor state election is over.

The Johor state election may be the deciding factor. If Barisan Nasional sweeps two-thirds of the seats, or more, (like in the recent Melaka state election), expect Ismail Sabri to be subjected to pressure to dissolve parliament to make way for GE15 — even if the MoU or ceasefire agreement says the government will run until July 2022.

The Umno ‘Court Cluster’ wants GE15 before the Umno party election because they are worried Ismail Sabri might go for the party presidency. Then he, instead of Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, would decide the candidates for GE15. Currently, Zahid Hamidi and not Ismail Sabri will decide the GE15 candidates — which means ‘the president’s men’ and not ‘the PM’s men’ would be chosen.

The Umno ‘Court Cluster’ spin-doctors are trying to convince Malaysians that the Johor state election, followed by GE15 (if possible, by the middle of this year), is a good idea because it strengthens Umno-Barisan Nasional. The truth is this move is not aimed at strengthening Umno but to save the ‘Court Cluster’ from being sent to jail.


On Monday (13 Sep 2021), the Malaysian government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with opposition bloc Pakatan Harapan (PH) to establish a bipartisan cooperation for the sake of political stability.

It was hailed as a historic event in the country, which has seen the collapse of two governments since the 2018 general election due to a power struggle. The king, who had played a prominent role during the political crises, decreed for the politicians to work as a team and set aside the “winner-takes-all” mentality.

The memorandum, dubbed the MoU on Transformation and Political Stability, covers a COVID-19 plan, administrative transformation, parliamentary reform, judiciary independence, Malaysia Agreement 1963, and the establishment of a steering committee.

The agreement took immediate effect and would stand until parliament is dissolved.

Here are five key points of the agreement:

1. Parliament will not be dissolved before Jul 31, 2022
As part of the agreement, the government has agreed not to dissolve the parliament before Jul 31, 2022.

This meant that a general election would not be held until at least August 2022, effectively calming the political uncertainties and reducing the likelihood of impending polls.

However, the next general election has to be called by July 2023, five years from when the first parliament sitting was held following the general election in 2018.

2. PH to support or abstain budget 2022 vote
The MOU stated that the PH bloc would either support or abstain during the vote to pass the national budget, related supply bills as well as other Bills or motions construed as confidence votes.

This was on condition that the drafting of the budget, budget-related Bills and other Bills be jointly negotiated between the government and PH.

With Mr Ismail Sabri’s slim parliamentary majority, such an agreement would be helpful for the government as it navigates out of the pandemic and puts in place support measures for the people.

3. Anti-party hopping law, UNDI18 and limiting PM’s term to 10 years
The MOU also called for both sides to agree on administrative transformations, such as an Anti-Party Hopping Bill, which if passed, would prevent politicians elected on one party’s platform from defecting to another party.

Political defections of this nature are not uncommon in Malaysia, with elected representatives switching camps before the term expires.

Such defections resulted in the fall of the PH government in February 2020, when a number of MPs from PKR, as well as almost all Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia lawmakers, pulled out of the-then ruling coalition PH.

Defections by state assemblymen from PH to Perikatan Nasional also led to the state governments collapsing in Johor, Perak, Melaka and Kedah.

Additionally, the MOU stated that the government must expedite the implementation of UNDI18, the constitutional amendment allowing 18-year-olds to vote and stand for elections in the near future.

A constitutional amendment to limit the prime minister’s term to 10 years should also be tabled and passed in the parliament.

All these administrative transformations must be implemented no later than the first meeting of the fifth parliament term in 2022.

4. Equal funding for government, PH MPs
The MOU also outlined parliamentary reforms, including equal funding for MPs from the ruling government as well as MPs involved in the agreement.

More parliamentary select committees should also be set up, while existing ones should be restructured.

The composition of these committees must reflect the parties’ representation in the parliament.

Moreover, the agreement also stated that appropriate rights and privileges should be accorded to the leader of the opposition, ensuring that the individual is able to carry out his responsibilities “effectively and comprehensively”. Mr Anwar is the current leader of the opposition.

5. Strengthening COVID-19 management
To cater to additional needs in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, the MOU stated that the government would table an extra fiscal injection of RM45 billion (US$10.87 billion) in the parliament for approval.

The sum would be used to strengthen the healthcare system, extend financial help to the people and support continuity of businesses.

Funds would also be set aside to “find, test, trace, isolate, support and vaccinate” the population. The agreement also highlighted that RM10 billion of cash assistance would be channelled to 11 million recipients in the second half of 2021.

Moreover, the agreement outlined that 50 per cent of the members of the National Recovery Council must comprise public and private sector experts.