Party wants elections now to free leaders from embarrassment

Party wants elections now to free leaders from embarrassment

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 Jan, 2022 — Thanks to pressure from high castles, Malaysia has witnessed a political calm for six months but this is about to end. Desperate to escape jail sentences, some party member wants elections now to free them from embarrassment.

According to Nikkei Asia, Malaysian PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob is under pressure from disgruntled Umno leaders. They are pressing him for fresh general elections. But the latter is holding the fort until November when the party will hold its internal polls.

However, the Japanese publication says former deputy PM Zahid Hamidi are pressing Sabri for snap polls. Zahid and his former boss ex-PM Najib Razak has more reasons to see elections soon. Jail sentences and court cases have piled up against Najib. Zahid has until August to know his fate while Najib is fighting to stay out of jail.

Sabri came to power six months ago after Umno pulled the plug under ex-PM Muhyiddin Yassin. The latter literally stole the prime ministership from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in March 2020.

The fall of the Pakatan Harapan was engineered by members of the ruling coaltion, including Muhyiddin with the support of the Umno. Muhyiddin was minister of home affairs under Mahathir when he broke ranks with the nanogenarian in 2020.

Ismail Sabri, 62, has signaled his intention to stretch his administration until its term expires in August 2023. Nikkei says this is according to one well-placed source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

However, if the Najib-Zahid group pulls the plug on Sabri and abandon his government, the latter will lose his majority in Parliament.

Whether the opposition PH will continue to support Sabri or not will depend on pressure from the high castles. The PH has signed an MoU with Sabri. It is a truce that may last until next year and there are talks PH might support Sabri in Parliament in the event he looses his majority.

Nikkei says Sabri wants to wait until after UMNO’s party elections in November to decide on elections. During the party polls, Sabri intends to seek party leadership to consolidate his PM post. Being a PM and contesting the UMNO polls will give him a crucial advantage.


But some key UMNO leaders does not seem to agree with this plan.

Sources who requested anonymity says Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the current UMNO president, wants Ismail Sabri to dissolve parliament sooner. Only the PM has the right to advise the king to dissolve the legislature.

Looming over Ahmad Zahid is a Kuala Lumpur High Court case in which he faces charges of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering. He denies all the claims. But he is rushing for elections before the court delivers a verdict.

A jail term will disqualify him from contesting in the next election, thus the rush for elections.

Zahid Hamidi: Picture from YouTube, Harian Metro

Zahid is also pressing for elections after the party won recent elections in Malacca and Sarawak (backing the winners).

No doubt the UMNO bosses hope to carry this momentum into a general election and winning would ‘free’ them from embarrassment.

Umno and the Barisan Nasional has regained popularity. They are the dominant force in politics but not all is lost for the opposition. Only a General Elections will show who is the real boss.


Nikkei says Bersatu headed by Muhyiddin could also be a source of trouble for Sabri if they call for elections. The party has been at odds with UMNO since they joined forces in 2020 and brought down Mahathir.

Bridget Welsh says Ismail Sabri’s biggest weakness is being the first prime minister who does not lead a political party. Welsh is a honorary research associate with the University of Nottingham’s Asia Research Institute Malaysia,

But despite speculation that Muhyiddin may pull the plug on Umno, he did nothing and the divide between Umno and Bersatu is widening.


Floods added to Sabri’s woes and poor response against the disaster still looms on his head YouTube, Al Jazeera