PETALING JAYA: The dominance of the so-called “court cluster” and the government’s underwhelming performance will hinder Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob from calling a snap general election, says DAP’s Lim Guan Eng.
In an interview with FMT, the DAP secretary-general said he believed that Ismail, an Umno vice–president, was caught in a vice as he was a captive of the court cluster.
The court cluster refers to the group of Umno leaders facing trial on charges of corruption, abuse of power and money laundering among others; the leaders include party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former prime minister Najib Razak.
“If you look at the court cluster, they are calling the shots in the party (Umno). They want to have early elections so that they can decide on the candidates, not only for GE15 but also for the Cabinet and the prime minister’s position,” he said, adding it was the party president who granted the watikah (letter of candidacy) to all candidates.
“I think it is very clear that if snap elections are held and Ismail Sabri is not the president of Umno, it is unlikely that he will continue as prime minister.”
Lim said this meant that if Ismail were to call for a general election, he was likely to be the prime minister with the shortest tenure.
“So he would not want to call for an election. He (would) want to hang on for as long as possible, and the memorandum of understanding gives him the breathing space to do so,” he said, referring to the political agreement between Ismail and Pakatan Harapan last year in which the opposition pledged not to cause the collapse of Ismail’s government.
Lim also said Ismail’s poor performance as prime minister was another reason that he was unlikely to call for snap elections.
If Ismail harboured ambitions of continuing as prime minister, he would need to have something to show for it. However, Lim said Ismail “has continuously failed”, judging by his management of the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic recession.
“He has not shown any remarkable success compared to the previous Muhyiddin Yassin administration,” Lim added.