Stop the numbers game, hold GE15 soon, says analyst

(FMT) – Speculation about former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin trying to make a comeback has prompted a political analyst to propose that the general election be held soon to end what he sees as political instability.

Azmi Hassan of the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research said speculation about yet another change of government would spoil Malaysia’s economic recovery efforts and this was why it was important to determine once and for all who has the people’s support.

He told FMT the speculation and politicking was also affecting Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s ability to do his job as prime minister. “He is unable to govern the country as he has to deal with Bersatu, PAS and also members from his own party, Umno.”

Last week, a news report quoted Warisan president Shafie Apdal as saying that Muhyiddin called him two months ago and sought his support in his bid to become the prime minister again.

According to the report, Shafie said Muhyiddin told him he had the backing of 119 MPs in the 222-member Dewan Rakyat.

Azmi noted that the country’s main political actors had all claimed to “have the numbers” in the past three-and-a-half years.

In the aftermath of the Sheraton Move, the front runners for the prime minister’s post had scrambled to get enough support for their bids.

Last August, Muhyiddin refused to resign as the prime minister, saying he still had the majority support and would prove it in Parliament in September. However, he resigned less than two weeks later.

In September 2020, PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim said he had the backing of most MPs. However, during an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, he reportedly failed to present a list to back his claim.

In early 2020, while Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the interim prime minister, he claimed he had the majority support to return as the prime minister for the third time. This was before Muhyiddin was eventually named the 8th prime minister.

Azmi said the public should not entertain what he called the “numbers game”.

Another analyst, Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said the present political situation was “so chaotic and turbulent” that one or more senior leaders from either side of the political divide might at any time indeed command the support of a parliamentary majority.

However, he said, some might switch political allegiances swiftly since many elected representatives put their political interests before the country.

“Many do not see the current prime minister, who could not even command the wholehearted support of his own party, as capable,” Oh said.

He said the best solution would be to have a capable government, but there was no guarantee that any party would have a clear majority even if elections were held now.