Rebelling Umno MPs could be in jeopardy if attempt to unseat PM fails, says analyst

PETALING JAYA: Should the attempt to topple the Perikatan Nasional government fail, the future of some Umno MPs' could be in jeopardy, says political analyst Prof Wong Chin Huat.

He said as Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin races to consolidate support, there is a "do-or-die" situation among Umno MPs led by party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi following Muhyiddin's announcement on Wednesday (Aug 4).

"It is unlikely Umno leaders who have gone all out will allow Muhyiddin (to take) his sweet time of a month to rebuild a coalition and leave themselves condemned to the political wilderness.

"While the fate of the members of the 'court cluster' cannot be worse, others who pull out are putting their political careers on the chopping block," he told The Star.

The "court cluster" refers to the Umno MPs facing court charges, namely Pekan MP Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Bagan Datuk MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim and Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan.

"A failed uprising means a reverse takeover of Umno by Muhyiddin loyalists, who will in turn deny the rebels candidacy under Umno in GE15," he added.

Wong said the stakes were high at present and Umno MPs led by Ahmad Zahid must be able to convince more of their colleagues to retract support for the government, to at least force a reorganisation of the current government and give Umno a stronger presence.

"Expect to see more Umno MPs leave... those who stay back with Muhyiddin will face tremendous pressure from the party grassroots," he said.

On Wednesday (Aug 4), Muhyiddin, in a special address to the nation, said a motion of confidence would be tabled in Parliament to test his majority as prime minister.

The special address came following an announcement by Ahmad Zahid that 11 Umno MPs had retracted support for the Perikatan government.

There were 10 MPs who stood behind Ahmad Zahid during his announcement on Tuesday (Aug 3).

However, Muhyiddin said eight Umno MPs had retracted their support towards him as prime minister.

Elaborating on the discrepancy between the3 numbers declared by Muhyiddin and Ahmad Zahid, Wong said this suggests that some may have either retracted their withdrawal of support, or have merely signalled their exit by their presence in the press conference.

"As we saw in the 'Sheraton Move', it will not be surprising if some MPs change their positions twice or thrice," he said, referring to the week-long political saga in February 2020 that triggered the collapse of the 22-month Pakatan Harapan government.

Meanwhile, Universti Malaya's Prof Dr Awang Azman Pawi anticipated the political temperature to heat up if there were to be further resignations of Umno ministers or withdrawal of support by its MPs.

"I'm foreshadowing announcements by non-MPs supporting Perikatan and also some Umno MPs to announce their withdrawal of support," he added.

Awang Azman also said the numbers possessed by Ahmad Zahid and Muhyiddin would change in the coming days due to the fluidity of the current political situation.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) political analyst Suffian Mansor also expressed similar sentiments, pointing out that Muhyiddin's address on Wednesday showed that the Pagoh MP was ready to fight on to stay as prime minister.

Noting the volatility of politics at present, Suffian said ongoing developments in the coming days would be closely watched as there would be intense horse-trading among MPs, adding it was a wait-and-see situation.

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