PETALING JAYA: Are Umno and PAS leaders in earnest when they say their parties will let Muhyiddin Yassin remain as prime minister after the next general election?
One political analyst has dismissed the recent public declarations from the two parties as mere rhetoric.
“It’s all talk,” said James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute.
Speaking to FMT, he said seat distribution for the election would remain as the point of contention in Perikatan Nasional (PN), particularly between Umno and PPBM.
“Now, of course, all the PN parties will say they support Muhyiddin, especially with the upcoming parliament meeting,” he said. “They have to say it because the government is under threat.
“But it really doesn’t matter who says what now. The real negotiations will be over the seat distribution. From there we’ll know where each party stands.
“As you know, all promises made by politicians can be broken at any time.”
Chin said the two parties’ support for Muhyiddin would depend on the prime minister’s ability to win an election, adding that it was uncertain if he would still be in the top post in two years’ time.
Barisan Nasional secretary-general Annuar Musa last week said Umno and PAS had agreed to back Muhyiddin as prime minister in the 15th general election.
However, Mersing MP Abd Latiff Ahmad recently caused an uproar in Umno after saying the party was no longer popular in Sabah, sparking calls for his resignation as rural and regional development minister.
Latiff, who crossed over to PPBM after the 2018 election, later apologised for his remarks, saying they had been misinterpreted.
But Umno leaders did not hold back from criticising him, with BN adviser Najib Razak saying his party would take Mersing back from PPBM, and Annuar adding that the coalition intended to stand for election for all of the seats it had traditionally vied for.
Another analyst, Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, said he did not foresee PPBM negotiating successfully to retain the seats it currently occupies but which Umno wants.
“As I see it, PAS and GPS play a critical role in persuading Umno to reach a compromise since it would be a no go for Umno to go it alone.
“Muhyiddin needs to secure solid support from PAS and GPS and, if possible, Warisan too, in order to cajole Umno.
“And he needs to play his cards right since he needs Umno’s help to be proposed as the designated prime minister for PN come GE15,” he said.
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