With high rating, best for Muhyiddin to call for polls soon, says political expert

If Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin wants to bank on his popularity to strengthen his stay in Putrajaya, it’s best that he calls for a general election soon.

This is the view of an academician who believes Muhyiddin has somehow found his way to the hearts of the people during his six months in office and that he should capitalise on the feel-good factor before it wears off.

Opinion research firm Merdeka Centre revealed 69 per cent of its respondents in its latest survey were satisfied with Muhyiddin’s performance as prime minister, with “nine out of 10 Malay and bumiputeras from Sabah and Sarawak giving the PM the thumbs up while 65 per cent of Indian and only 33 per cent of Chinese were satisfied with him.”

The survey also showed 51 per cent of the respondents viewed Perikatan Nasional positively, compared to only 37 per cent who viewed Muafakat Nasional positively.

Universiti Utara Malaysia’s (UUM) Assoc Prof Dr Mohamad Faisol Keling said when Muhyiddin took over, the first thing he did was to adopt the ‘mesra rakyat’ (people friendly) approach.

“Big budgets were allocated to the people as the nation battled the Covid-19 pandemic. That pleased many,” Faisol said.

The Merdeka Centre survey between July 15 and Aug 10 was to gauge voters’ perception of the economy, leadership and current issues. It saw the participation of 3,415 registered voters (52 per cent Malay, 29 per cent Chinese, seven per cent Indian, six per cent Muslim bumiputera and six per cent non-Muslim bumiputera from Sabah and Sarawak), reflective of the national electoral profile.

Faisol, who is attached to UUM’s College of Law, Government and International Studies, said Muhyiddin’s popularity may start wearing off when the moratorium for loan repayment ends this month.

“The moratorium ends on Sept 31 and the (feel-good) impact will end too. He won’t be able to drag the (feel-good) impact. He needs to act quickly (to call for a GE).”

Faisol added Muhyiddin’s government is not exclusive to the Malays but admitted a large number of Malays and Indians still relied on some form of government assistance instead of the Chinese who are more independent.

“Of course his priorities will include unifying the Malays and helping the Indians but he will also see the need to reach out to the Chinese.

“In fact, if a GE is called, I’m sure Muhyiddin will allocate seats to Gerakan and MCA,” he added.

Faisol said it was common to see disagreements within a coalition, adding that a unity government may now be the way forward.

“The framework all these years has always been a single party ruling the country. Now it’s no longer so. The rakyat prefers unity. The process is challenging and yes, everyone will have their own interests but the party presidents will make a collective decision.”

On Aug 3, Twentytwo13 published insights by Umno insiders saying that the general election will be called soon as Umno and PAS will need Muhyiddin to continue running Putrajaya.

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.

The other finding of the Merdeka Centre poll is that 61 per cent of respondents agreed with the High Court decision that found former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak guilty of abuse of power and money laundering. Some 57 per cent of Malay voters also agreed with the court’s verdict.

Here’s the round-up of The News Normal today.

RAIS YATIM NEW DEWAN NEGARA PRESIDENT

Tan Sri Rais Yatim has been elected as the new president of the Dewan Negara replacing Tan Sri S.A. Vigneswaran whose term ended on June 22.

Besides Rais, two other names were proposed for the post – Mohd Yusmadi Mohd Yusoff and Theodore Douglas Lind. Theodore withdrew his candidacy at the 11th hour. Rais, a former information, communications and culture minister, obtained 45 votes while Yusmadi garnered 19 votes.

Later, four new members of the Senate took their oath of office before Rais. They were Datuk Seri S. Vell Paari, Mohamad Apandi Mohamad, Ahmad Yahaya and Datuk Othman Aziz.

SET UP ELECTION REFORMS UNIT, SAYS ERC BOSS

Electoral Reforms Committee chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman says setting up an implementation unit under the Prime Minister’s Department will be the first step to ensure the 49 recommendations by the ERC become a reality.

Abdul Rashid told Twentytwo13 that the unit, which should come under the Prime Minister’s Department, will be able to monitor and assist all the relevant agencies to adopt the recommendations.

QUARANTINE MANDATORY FOR RETURNING MALAYSIANS TO EAST MALAYSIA

Malaysians from abroad still need to undergo quarantine if they are entering Sarawak, Sabah or Labuan.

Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said while Malaysians entering these states from the peninsula do not need to undergo the quarantine, those from abroad will be quarantined for 14 days at designated centres. They will also be subjected to swab tests for Covid-19 on the second and 10th day of their return.

Malaysians travelling to Sarawak from Sabah, Labuan and the peninsula have to fill in a health declaration form online before entering the state.

The declaration form can be obtained at https://sarawakdisastermc.com/

Ismail also said 21,217 Malaysians have returned from abroad since July 24 until yesterday with 8,801 undergoing quarantine, 66 sent to hospitals and 12,350 allowed to return home.