Zahid & Najib Approved Ismail Sabri
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi consented to party vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s appointment claimed Umno supreme council member Armand Azha Abu Hanifah.
According to him, an understanding was reached in a face-to-face meeting between Ismail Sabri and Ahmad Zahid yesterday.
“At the Umno supreme council meeting last night, Ismail Sabri said that before he accepted the position, he had met face-to-face with the (Umno) president and he asked if he could accept the position.
“Thankfully, the Umno president gave him his support and encouragement to accept the post,” Armand said in a video clip that was shared with Malaysiakini.
In fact, Armand said, Ismail Sabri’s appointment as deputy prime minister was also approved by former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.
“He also consulted former prime minister and former Umno president, Najib. Thankfully, Najib expressed the same sentiment.
“It was on that basis that (Ismail Sabri’s) decision to accept the post was made late in the afternoon yesterday after obtaining the consent of the current and former party presidents,” said Armand.
Government still has majority, says Ismail Sabri
“The government still has the support of more than 110 members of Parliament who are still with the government today”
The government still has the majority support it needs to remain in power, deputy prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has said.
In a statement, the Umno leader recognised the current state of political instability could jeopardise the government’s efforts to battle the economic and health crises facing the country.
However, he said he wanted to emphasise that “the government still has the support of more than 110 members of Parliament who are still with the government today”.
The political sphere was abuzz today, after the Palace revealed that Putrajaya had not obtained the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to revoke the emergency ordinances, with critics calling for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to resign or for a confidence vote to be held.
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has also called on Umno ministers to withdraw support for the prime minister.
However, Ismail said: “I hope the people can be calm in the face of the current situation, and together we pray that this political crisis ends immediately.”
When Istana Negara’s statement was read aloud in Parliament by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim this morning, it sparked a chorus of “derhaka” (treason) and “letak jawatan” (resign) from MPs.
In a statement this afternoon, Muhyiddin’s predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad called for the prime minister and his Cabinet to step down having “lied to Parliament with regards to the revocation of the emergency ordinances”.
“Although Muhyiddin did not announce the revocation on July 26, and it was made by the de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan, he cannot absolve himself from responsibility.”
Similarly, Zahid called the government’s actions “treacherous against His Majesty, and diminishes the principle of the Federal Constitution”.
“In line with this, Umno will ask Muhyiddin Yassin and Takiyuddin Hassan to resign honourably,” he said.
Ismail Sabri can help UMNO regain leadership
Political analyst Dr Che Hamdan Che Mohd Razali said Ismail Sabri’s appointment should be regarded as a recognition for UMNO and welcomed by all levels of the party.
“Nevertheless, asking the prime minister to resign might well be an UMNO strategy since an UMNO representative is holding the deputy prime minister post and has a chance to become prime minister,” said Che Hamdan, who is from the Science Administration and Policy Studies Faculty of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Raub Campus in Pahang.
He said changing the prime minister now, even for a brief period, would be very risky for the country as it is still grappling with COVID-19.
“It is difficult to predict what would happen in terms of resolution of the pandemic, economic (problems) and political conflict with a change of prime minister, because what is happening now is beyond human control, for example the COVID-19 cases,” he added.
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Human Ecology Faculty lecturer Associate Prof Dr Mohd Izani Mohd Zain said he could not predict what UMNO would be doing next although its action now was solely aimed at pressuring the prime minister to step down.
“If UMNO wants to form a new government, who will be UMNO’s partners? UMNO has said it does not want to cooperate with PKR and DAP.
“I do not see how this action can have implications on the government unless UMNO ministers resign their posts (in government) and there is clearly a new coalition to replace PN,” he said.
Azmin Ali The Next Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia
With the dust settled on Umno stalwart Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s deputy prime minister appointment, attention is shifting to Sheraton Move engineer Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.
Where does this leave Azmin?
Observers warned against ruling out the role Azmin may play in the political scene in the years to come, tipping the Bersatu supreme council member to possibly lead the party.
Although Azmin is a polarising figure, it would be foolish to discount him as the Malaysian political arena is full of intrigue and behind-the-scenes shenanigans.
For now, it may seem like he is left in the cold after Ismail Sabri’s promotion, as well as Umno’s Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein being made senior minister.
From the get-go, it was clear that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement on Ismail Sabri as his No. 2 was designed to safeguard whatever is left of his Dewan Rakyat majority.
This, however, did not stop Umno from pulling the plug on Muhyiddin, but Ismail Sabri and Hishammuddin’s promotions appear to have convinced the majority of the party’s MPs to continue supporting the prime minister.
Unwise to rule Azmin out
For Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Prof Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani, as it stands, it would be foolish to discount Azmin’s political future, saying the international trade and industry minister remains strong in terms of survivability.
With firm grassroots support from his years in PKR, Azizuddin even backed Azmin to challenge Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu for the Bersatu deputy presidency in its next party polls.
At the age of 56, young by Malaysia’s political standards, he said Azmin may even beat the odds to replace Muhyiddin as party president when the latter steps down.
“He still has time to build his grassroots support to replace Muhyiddin. In fact, at the moment, I’m certain Faizal is worried about his position with Azmin there.
“Any time the party holds its elections, I think Azmin will take the No. 2 post. And with Muhyiddin not set to stay on for long, he (Azmin) could be next in line (to lead the party),” Azizuddin told The Vibes.
He said the only possible roadblock for Azmin in his rise to prominence is Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin, who is equally ambitious.
“I think they are the big guns in Bersatu now. But compared with Hamzah, I see Azmin holding the cards due to stronger support from fellow ex-PKR members.”
Azizuddin said even in the event Azmin loses in future party polls, he will remain relevant, with key positions, such as secretary-general or vice-president, expected to be handed to him by Muhyiddin.
On why Azmin was not appointed deputy prime minister, he said Muhyiddin and Bersatu were compelled to pass the position to Umno as it has the most number of MPs in the government and considering the tense relationship between the parties.
Trump card in ex-PKR MPs
Universiti Malaya academic Prof Awang Azman Awang Pawi said Ismail Sabri’s new appointment does not diminish Azmin’s power as the most senior minister in the cabinet.
Either way, he said, Azmin would have understood the motivation behind the appointment of an Umno leader to the post, with the current political squabbling threatening to dethrone the Muhyiddin-led government.
Awang Azman added that the responsibility given to Azmin to oversee foreign trade missions, as well as his position as Perikatan Nasional election director, proves that he still plays a significant role in both his party and the government.
“And with more than 10 PKR MPs now with him in Bersatu, I would say Azmin can count himself comfortable and is in a position of prominence.”
Like Azizuddin, the UM lecturer believes Azmin is primed to take over the Bersatu deputy presidency once the party heads to the polls in a few years.
However, he said, any ambition of Azmin’s will depend on him winning his parliamentary seat and the party trumping its rivals in the next general election.
“In this case, I feel Azmin needs to leave his Gombak constituency. He must find a safe, winnable seat to cement his position.
“He may have strong grassroots support from the divisions and branches, but on the ground, I think most voters there still support PKR. So, he needs to find another seat.”
Under the PKR banner previously, Azmin competed and won three times in Gombak since making his debut there in 2008, although none with a large majority.
In the 2008 polls, the lawmaker garnered 53.9% of the vote, followed by a slim victory in 2013 with 51.8% support. In 2018, on the back of heightened frustration at the then Barisan Nasional government, he obtained 63.1% of the vote.
But following last year’s Sheraton Move, 10 voters filed a suit against him on November 27, seeking, among others, a declaration that Azmin, as Gombak MP, breached his fiduciary obligations, deceived them in elections and violated the representation made to them.
The plaintiffs are applying for a declaration affirming this, and are seeking damages, including aggravated or exemplary damages, interests, costs and other orders deemed fit by the court.