Call for MoU 2.0 shows PH’s fear of early polls, says analyst

It is fear of an early general election that has prompted a call from a DAP MP for an extension of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Pakatan Harapan and Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s administration, an analyst has claimed.

(FMT) – “The opposition is desperate for MoU 2.0,” said James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute in reference to a suggestion that Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming made last Wednesday.

Ong said the extension would give the government room to make meaningful reforms over the next year.

Speaking to FMT, Chin predicted that PH would suffer a heavy defeat if the 15th general election were to be held soon.

James Chin.

He claimed that many voters were unhappy that the MoU had kept what they saw as an illegitimate government in power.

But the opposition would rather have Ismail continue as prime minister than risk a major defeat, he said, adding: “An MoU will delay the election until next year but only if the opposition can push Ismail for an extension.”

He predicted an open war in Umno if Ismail agreed to an extension.

“I believe the Zahid-Najib faction in Umno has enough support within the party to pressure Ismail to call for an election this year,” he said, referring to Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former prime minister Najib Razak, who are said to favour an early election.

Another analyst, Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid of Universiti Sains Malaysia, said MoU 2.0 would be detrimental to Zahid and Najib, who are fighting in court against various charges of corruption.

Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid.

Fauzi said the longer the MoU was extended, the higher would be the chances for Ismail to manage the country well and garner support in Umno and among voters.

“The reforms attempted until now have warmed sections of the public to Ismail,” he said. “They see in him a face of Umno that sees the benefits of working with the opposition and NGOs towards the overall betterment of the nation.”

However, Fauzi agreed with Chin that Zahid and Najib had enough support to push the prime minister to call for a snap election, adding that they might issue Ismail an ultimatum over his candidacy for GE15.

Ismail and PH leaders signed an MoU in September 2021, agreeing to work together to restore political stability and to let the government manage the Covid-19 pandemic and work towards economic recovery.

The MoU does not have an expiry date and it states that the government and PH agree against holding GE15 before July 31 this year.