While the Agong was fording flood waters to visit those who had lost homes and possessions in Pahang and the prime minister was meeting with those in distress in Johor, Umno leaders were gathering in Kuala Lumpur to plan a change of government by forcing a snap election.
Yesterday, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in a meeting with division leaders attempted to persuade MPs to revoke their support for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government by February so that snap polls could be held as soon as possible.
Malay politics observer Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia said Zahid should not be hasty in calling for the 15th general election (GE15) to be held at a time when daily Covid-19 cases are on the rise and the death toll has passed 500.
“Zahid’s plan to force snap polls goes against the decree by Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah that politicians put aside their differences and work with the government to battle the Covid-19 pandemic,” he told MalaysiaNow.
The decree was one of several made by the king last year, urging politicians from both sides of the divide to work together in the face of rising case numbers.
Aside from calling on Umno MPs to turn their back on the PN government, Zahid also sacked Annuar Musa as Barisan Nasional (BN) secretary-general, replacing him with Ahmad Maslan.
Annuar has been among the most vocal against any plan by the party to quit PN and form an alliance with Anwar Ibrahim, who has been hoping to engineer a defection of MPs from the ruling bloc to form the government.
Analyst Azmi Hassan said even without the threat of Covid-19, no one party would be able to obtain a comfortable majority in the event that a snap election is called.
“Right now, whether it’s PN, BN, MN (Muafakat Nasional) or PH (Pakatan Harapan), no one will be able to get a clear majority if GE15 is called now,” the former Universiti Teknologi Malaysia lecturer told MalaysiaNow.
Because of this, he said, cooperation among political parties would need to be strengthened ahead of time if any group is to form the government with a solid majority.
“The bottom line is, GE15 will not resolve the political crisis as long as the individual parties do not work together.”
Yesterday, MalaysiaNow reported that Zahid said Umno had no choice but to leave PN, accusing the ruling coalition of being out of touch with the people.
At the closed-door meeting, Zahid also urged all ministers from Umno to resign, and those holding top posts in government-linked companies to give up their positions by next month.
Zahid, who was deputy prime minister and home minister in the BN government, currently faces 47 charges of corruption involving millions of ringgit from the Yayasan Akalbudi foundation.
Jayum Jawan of Universiti Putra Malaysia agreed that an election would not put an end to the political crisis as long as no single party emerges as the dominant group with a majority strong enough to form the federal government.
“The political instability will continue until a general election is held as none of the parties can obtain a majority on its own,” he told MalaysiaNow.
Kamarul said Umno would have to wait for an official decision at the Umno general assembly scheduled for Jan 31.
“If Umno insists on forcing its hand, it will probably be the one to suffer the consequences,” he said.