Why has Ismail not honoured his DPM pact with Bersatu?

Now that the “secret” pact Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob made with Perikatan Nasional has come to light, many are asking why the PM has not followed through on it.

Ibrahim M Ahmad, Free Malaysia Today

Overnight, three pages of a memorandum of understanding inked between Ismail, in his personal capacity, and PN, represented by its chairman and former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, went viral, triggering a host of questions.

The MoU, signed on Aug 17 last year, was witnessed by Bersatu’s Hamzah Zainudin and Umno’s Annuar Musa, a staunch Ismail ally. Ismail took office as PM four days later.

The extract reveals an agreement on Ismail’s part to appoint a Bersatu MP as deputy prime minister.

Sources indicate that, apart from Ismail and Annuar, very few in Umno even knew of the MoU, with party information chief Shahril Hamdan even going on record to deny its existence.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, who is also PN’s deputy chairman, issued a similar denial, claiming instead that, although there were discussions, no agreement was reached.

In response, Muhyiddin referred Hadi to PAS’ secretary-general, Takiyuddin Hassan, who has since admitted that he drafted the MoU, presumably behind Hadi’s back.

With the existence of the MoU now seemingly proven, numerous questions arise for which answers are necessary.

First and foremost, did Ismail keep the majority of Umno members in the dark over the MoU’s existence, and if so, why? Was it out of fear that his own party members might not support his candidacy as prime minister?

Despite 11 months elapsing since Ismail’s administration took office, the prime minister appears not to have taken any steps to honour his promise. Again, he must explain why.

Was it because Bersatu could not put forward a candidate acceptable to Umno?

Very early in Ismail’s administration, Umno’s Puad Zarkashi branded a rumoured nomination of Azmin Ali to the post as “suicidal”. At about the same time, Hamzah, another candidate touted for the post, himself downplayed talk of Bersatu occupying the position.

Earlier this month, Puad predicted more political instability if Ahmad Faizal Azumu assumed the post.

Perhaps, Ismail himself did not intend to honour his promise.

At the very least, Ismail’s refusal to appoint a deputy puts to rest fears many in Umno have had that, despite replacing Muhyiddin as premier, Ismail would continue to be subservient to him.

All this, in turn, brings up the question of why Muhyiddin would bring the matter up so late in the day.

Is he taking advantage of Ismail’s reluctance to call for an early general election to raise Bersatu’s profile in the administration?

Or is he looking to raise temperatures among warring Umno factions to trigger a vote of no confidence in Ismail’s government from within the party itself?

Maybe Muhyiddin thinks that Bersatu’s best chance at the polls is if it comes up against a divided Umno.