PETALING JAYA: Umno and PAS will be the biggest winners if Dr Mahathir Mohamad succeeds in moving a parliamentary motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, say two lecturers.
“The Malay ground now is not in favour of PH which did not make the best of its 22 months in power with infighting. So, if there is a vote of no confidence, Muhyiddin may lose but Pakatan Harapan will not win,” said Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
If the motion failed, it would be the beginning of the end of Mahathir’s long political career, he said.
He and Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya agreed that if the prime minister lost his majority in the Dewan Rakyat and was forced to call for a snap election, the two parties most likely to win would be Umno and PAS who are likely to contest as a team.
“PPBM, which is out of PH, will be in the middle of nowhere, and PH will be without a Malay party,” they said.
Mahathir has filed notice of a confidence motion against Muhyiddin to be tabled when the Dewan Rakyat meets on May 18. However, the motion is not likely to be debated and put to a vote, as government business takes precedence over all other motions or private members’ bills.
Azmi said the earliest that the motion could be debated would be July, “by which time Muhyiddin would have solidified his support”.
He said many people did not want a general election to be called in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis which has brought the economy to a near halt.
“So I believe there will be almost certain support from Umno, PAS and GPS for Muhyiddin” if the motion came to a vote.
Awang Azman said that Muhyiddin, as prime minister, was in a good position to strengthen his position.
“But if Mahathir’s motion somehow succeeds, Muhyiddin will lose out because Umno and PAS will likely stand along with Barisan Nasional components and other parties minus PPBM.
“It’s unlikely that PH can win a snap election, they do not have strong Malay grassroots support,” he said.
He said if Muhyiddin could show he had the numbers in Parliament, it would mean he was the dominant leader in PPBM and that would give him a major advantage in the party polls.
Adding to the woes of Mahathir’s faction, the analysts said, was the uncertainty in Kedah, where Mahathir’s son Mukhriz is menteri besar.
There has been speculation that Mukhriz is losing support among PPBM assemblymen in the state, after most party leaders chose to side with their president Muhyiddin to form a new coalition with Umno and PAS.
PAS has 15 seats in the 36-member assembly, while Umno has two. There are 19 assemblymen who stood on a Pakatan Harapan ticket in the 2018 election: seven from PKR, six from PPBM, four from Amanah and two from DAP.
Azmi said if Mukhriz was toppled, it would affect Mahathir’s influence in PPBM but it would not be a “knockout blow”.
“It will sway those who are on the fence about supporting Muhyiddin,” he said.
Awang Azman said if Mukhriz was replaced as menteri besar, it would be as good as a “declaration of war” by Muhyiddin against Mahathir.
“I believe the talk of change in Kedah is aimed at putting pressure on Mukhriz and Mahathir, especially ahead of the PPBM elections,” he said.
Mukhriz is contesting the presidency, while Mahathir is uncontested for the post of party chairman.
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