Umno supreme council member Mohd Puad Zakarshi has warned Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that even if he is not willing to listen to Umno or other parties, he may be "caned" by the 7.6 million Employees Provident Fund (EPF) members in the next election.
"Only three days are left before Budget 2021 will be voted upon, but the prime minister seemed adamant (in sticking to his guns). He is not afraid of the conditional support of the opposition, let alone that of Umno.
"He is also not afraid of (ex-premiers) Najib Abdul Razak, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, (opposition leader) Anwar Ibrahim and (Umno president) Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
"They are all peanuts to him," said Puad in a Facebook post this morning.
He also referenced the announcement by Umno's Gua Musang MP, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah that he won't participate in the Budget 2021 debate as long as Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Azizan Harun refuses to allow a test of confidence on Muhyiddin's Perikatan Nasional government.
"Even Ku Li has decided not to discuss the budget. That means PN lost one vote."
Puad said that while it seems as if the prime minister is not afraid of any group, he will face "one group" in the 15th general election later. Namely, the EPF members.
"EPF has 7.6 million active members. Umno members are only 3.5 million.
Puad claimed that if Muhyiddin refuses to listen to suggestions on the one-off RM10,000 withdrawal from Account 1 (under strict conditions of I-Sinar), voters could punish him.
It has also been argued that the proposed selling of assets by the EPF to fund the withdrawals could negatively impact EPF's dividends.
"Do not underestimate the power of the EPF group. This group can deliver a caning," Puad told Muhyiddin.
Yesterday, Puad ticked off BN secretary-general Annuar Musa, saying that he is acting like he is the spokesperson for Muhyiddin's Bersatu party.
"Annuar made it look like Umno is being too defensive. Like Umno is a bad boy. Why does he need to be the spokesperson for another party?" he asked, in the latest sign that Umno appears to be divided over whether or not to support Muhyiddin in this week's budget vote.
At present, Muhyiddin commands the support of 112 MPs in the 222-member Dewan Rakyat.
However, there are only 220 MPs at present following the death of a government and opposition MP.
Without Tengku Razaleigh's support, Muhyiddin's MPs will be down to 111.
Even though Umno is part of Muhyiddin's PN government, some of its MPs have been rattling him to extract a new deal.
It is unclear if they will follow through with the threat during the budget vote which will take place as early as Nov 25.
If the House sees full attendance and MPs vote along partisan lines, it will only take two more government MPs to turn for the Budget 2021 to be defeated.
The vote is crucial for Muhyiddin as it is also a proxy confidence vote.