Umno and PAS will still throw their support behind Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin regardless of the narratives that have been making their rounds.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said last week Umno will not join Perikatan Nasional – a loose, unregistered coalition that currently runs Putrajaya – and will instead strengthen its relationship with PAS through Muafakat Nasional.
But senior Umno leaders themselves admitted the party has no prime ministerial candidate who can placate the rakyat.
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, recently slapped with a 12-year jail term and RM210 million fine, and Ahmad Zahid, who is also facing charges, have been deemed “not the right candidate”. However, between the duo, Najib seems to have garnered more followers especially in the rural areas.
The other senior members have yet to step up while a capable few are no longer in Parliament.
“You need to have a PM candidate ahead of the general election, which will be held by the end of the year,” revealed a ranking Umno leader.
“Right now, no leader seems to have warmed up to the people except Muhyiddin. It’s a peculiar situation as Muhyiddin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia does not have the numbers but Umno and PAS do not have the leaders for the top job who will appeal to the ordinary folk.”
Nevertheless, the Umno leader admitted the clock is ticking as the Muhyiddin “feel good” factor will fade once the bank moratorium ends in October and as Malaysia and the world economy continue to take a beating due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“People will be demanding for more. They will quickly forget the subsidies that were dished out throughout the Movement Control Order. Sentiments will change.
“Thus, it is important to call for a general election soon.”
Due to his wafer-thin majority, Muhyiddin may find it tough tabling the 2021 Budget. Some argue that it is not advisable to hold a general election within the next four months due to the surge of new Covid-19 clusters and the monsoon season. It also remains to be seen how postal voting will work if borders remain closed in light of the pandemic.
For the record, the 1990 GE was held in October, with the 1991 Budget tabled on Dec 14, 1990 by then Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin. In 1999, Malaysians headed to the ballot boxes in November.
Another ranking Umno member likened Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to former deputy prime minister Tun Ghafar Baba.
“Ismail Sabri can play the housekeeping role and has done it well throughout the Covid-19 battle.”
There have been many theories following Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s shocking resignation earlier this year that led to the fall of Pakatan Harapan which was voted in by the people in the 2018 general election.
There are those who insist Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin are actually on the same page while there is talk of Muhyiddin luring Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman to return to Bersatu to head its Armada youth wing once again.
“There has been plenty of talk. Everyone seems to have their own theories. Given the situation in Sabah and the current political landscape, a general election will be held by this year. There is a need to strike while the iron is hot.”