Umno’s Ismail Sabri stands by his man – and it’s not party president Ahmad Zahid

He was the sole Umno leader who stood by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin during the latter’s televised speech this afternoon.

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s apparent act of defiance, in going against his party’s wishes, had set tongues wagging.

A senior Umno leader described the situation as “an Azmin to Anwar”, hinting that Ismail Sabri – Umno’s vice-president and Bera MP – could turn his back on Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as how Datuk Seri Azmin Ali turned his back on PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Many believed the move to elevate Ismail Sabri from Senior Minister to Deputy Prime Minister on July 7 was to pacify Umno. The announcement of his appointment came just hours before Umno Supreme Council members met to discuss the next course of action.

However, the act of naming Ismail Sabri the deputy prime minister, and another Umno man, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein senior minister, did little to pacify Ahmad Zahid – who is facing a series of corruption charges.

Ahmad Zahid, after the July 7 meeting, said the party no longer supported Muhyiddin as prime minister.

The image of several Cabinet ministers standing alongside and behind Muhyiddin during his televised speech today, mirrored that of Umno’s announcement yesterday, in which Ahmad Zahid was flanked by several key Umno members, including former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

The show of force and support is purely psychological. Muhyiddin had after meeting the Yang di-Pertuan Agong this morning said a vote of confidence to cement his position in power once and for all, would be called when Parliament resumed in September.

In his speech, Muhyiddin said the political imbroglio was created by opportunists.

He also said “these people” were unhappy that he had refused to entertain their demands, including to interfere in the judicial process to get charges against several individuals dropped.

He added he would not sacrifice his principles and go against his oath of office, and would be loyal to King and country, and protect and uphold the Constitution.

Muhyiddin insisted it was business as usual and that the government would continue to function. He also said the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme would not be affected.

Opposition party leaders, in a statement this evening, insisted that a special parliamentary sitting be convened no later than Aug 9 to table, debate and decide on the vote of confidence against Muhyiddin.

Those who signed the statement were PKR’s Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Amanah’s Mohamad Sabu, DAP’s Lim Guan Eng, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal (Warisan), Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (Pejuang), Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau (UPKO), Baru Bian (PSB), Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (MUDA) and Maszlee Malik (an independent). Former premier Najib also questioned why Muhyiddin wanted to wait until September to prove he still enjoyed majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.

Here are Twentytwo13’s news highlights today.

MALAYSIA RECORDS HIGHEST NUMBER OF COVID-19 CASES TODAY, AT 19,819

Malaysia today recorded 19,819 new Covid-19 cases – the highest ever since the pandemic first hit our shores last year.

The latest figures bring the total number of cases to 1,183,110.

The number of positive cases in the Klang Valley continued to soar, with Selangor recording 8,377 cases today, and Kuala Lumpur, 2,467 cases.

MORE KIDS GETTING INFECTED WITH COVID-19 IN KELANTAN

Kelantan has recorded an increase of between 25 and 30 per cent of children being admitted at its Covid-19 Quarantine and Low-Risk Treatment Centres (PKRC) in the Kota Bharu district over the past two weeks.

Kelantan PKRC director Dr Mohd Zurairie Zubir said this could be due to the children getting the virus from adults in the family.

“To date, 219 children have been placed at the PKRC in Pengakaln Chepa and the Pengkalan Chepa Industrial Training Institute.

Zurairie said the figure was alarming as the spread was difficult to contain while children were still not vaccinated.

In June, the government announced that the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency had approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12 years and above.

NIGERIAN GETS THE GALLOWS FOR MURDERING SERDANG HOSPITAL CHIEF NURSE

A Nigerian was sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court for the murder of Serdang Hospital chief nurse Siti Kharina Mohd Kamarudin, two years ago.

High Court judge Ab Karim Ab Rahman, who handed down the sentence, said the court found Alowonle Oluwajuwon Gilbert, 38, guilty after the
prosecution had succeeded in establishing the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The accused was charged with committing the offence at the Third Avenue Condominium in Cyberjaya, between 12.41am on May 9, and 2.30pm on May 15, 2019.

Siti Kharina was reported missing on May 8, 2019. She was last seen at the Serdang Hospital parking lot at 4pm the same day.

Her body was discovered on May 15 with slash wounds on her head, chest, and neck in a unit at the condominium. She was believed to have died four to five days prior to her body being discovered.

ELECTION COMMISSION’S INDEPENDENCE MUST BE INSTITUTIONALISED

The independence of the Election Commission from the executive must be institutionalised.

Even though the Pakatan Harapan government is no more, the current set of leaders need to have the political determination to push through these reforms, and where constitutional amendments are required, to persuade opposition parties that these reforms are also in their best interest, and the interest of the nation, writes Associate Professor Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk.