MOU with Pakatan holds no value for Umno

PETALING JAYA: Given the outcome of the previous three state elections, Umno is more confident than ever about winning big in the next general election (GE), says Prof James Chin, from the Asia Institute at the University of Tasmania, Australia.

“It is highly likely they (Umno) want the GE to be held the soonest from July, so that they can regain power,” he said in response to Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan’s statement on Thursday about the party not renewing the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Pakatan Harapan (PH) when it ends on July 31.

Chin added that the statement was a clear indication that the party was ensuring that none of its election machinery momentum would be lost, which could happen if the elections do not take place soon. “They (Umno) do not need the Opposition anymore and with the GE coming, they don’t care much about the MOU.

“If you ask me, it is the Opposition who has been ‘used’ by Umno for their own benefit.

“As for Budget 2023, to me, it is irrelevant. They are more keen about not passing the Bill seeking to set a two-term limit for the premiership and the anti-hopping Bill, so by ‘dumping’ the Opposition now, they don’t have to worry about these Bills,” he said.

Azmi Hassan, a senior fellow at Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research, said Umno’s decision not to continue with the MOU between Putrajaya and Pakatan could mean that GE15 was around the corner.

“This means that after July 31, everything is on the table and Parliament can be dissolved.

“Umno wants the election to be held as soon as possible, most probably within the last quarter of this year,” he said.

On the budget, Azmi said Pakatan would not vote against it when it was expected to be tabled in Parliament this October.

“If the government does not have the majority to pass Budget 2023, it can be interpreted as the government or the prime minister has lost confidence.

“So, it will tie the Prime Minister’s hands to dissolve Parliament. I don’t think the Opposition will vote it down.

“By convention, if a federal budget or a Supply Bill fails to be passed in Parliament, it could pave the way for the dissolution of Parliament or a snap general election, as it means that the government of the day has lost its majority,” Azmi said.

Meanwhile Dr Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said that as the GE was expected before the next budget, Pakatan Harapan (PH) would likely remain in the Opposition.

However, he said that PH would be free to vote against Budget 2023.

“The budget is likely to be passed anyway if there is no more division both within Umno and the ruling coalition.

“It would appear that this new announcement is a compromise struck by Umno’s mainstream faction with Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in naming him as the prime minister candidate for GE15.

“As such, Ismail Sabri will go along with the faction’s desire to expedite the general election to some time after July this year,” he said.

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