Umno leaders say party to decide on next step tonight, could seek new deal with Muhyiddin

Syed Jaymal Zahiid
·3-min read
Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin is pictured at Menara Dato’ Onn in Kuala Lumpur, October 26, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin is pictured at Menara Dato’ Onn in Kuala Lumpur, October 26, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 — Umno leaders are set to decide later this evening if the party would continue to back Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin or withdraw their support, following the embattled prime minister’s failed bid to declare an emergency.

Several of the party’s Supreme Council members said divergent views were given about what course of action to take next at this evening’s Barisan Nasional central leadership meeting, convened hastily as Muhyiddin’s position becomes more tenuous.

Umno supreme council member Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin claimed among the most popular options discussed at the hours long closed-door meeting was to force Muhyiddin to make more concessions in return for the party’s continued support.

“There were many views given,” the Padang Besar MP told reporters at the Putra World Trade Centre here.

“One of the strongest was that we renegotiate with Muhyiddin because there are so many posts given to Bersatu,” he added referring to Muhyiddin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

BN leaders also mooted the idea of forcing Muhyiddin to call for early polls although many felt the idea impossible given the worsening pandemic, the Umno leader suggested.

“There were views that elections should be held but with the Covid-19 pandemic we feel that it is not the best way and focus should be on helping the people,” Zainul said.

“Elections may be the best option when the outbreak subsides.”

The BN Supreme Council meeting was urgently convened today to deliberate on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decision dismissing the need to proclaim an emergency, in a move that dealt a blow to Muhyiddin’s position but at the same time provided a lifeline.

The Bersatu president was said to have sought emergency rule to stave off a power grab via a vote against the Perikatan Nasional’s maiden budget, slated to be tabled next Friday.

The Agong said in a statement issued after he held consultations with the Conference of Rulers yesterday evening that emergency rule was unnecessary, as he was of the view that existing measures were sufficient to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic.

The rejection has since fuelled rumours that Muhyiddin could face mounting pressure to step down.

Earlier this evening, BN treasurer-general Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the matter would be discussed today, although he later played coy when asked to confirm if the topic was indeed part of the agenda at the coalition’s supreme council meeting.

“We discussed a lot of things...but whatever decision we reach later must be to the best of public interest,” he told reporters after leaving the meeting.

Umno veteran and former minister Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who is said to be among leaders seeking to topple Muhyiddin, told the press that the issue was “mentioned” but suggested it was not a key agenda.

“Didn’t arise although it was mentioned,” he said when pressed by reporters.

Meanwhile former Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak revealed no decision was made at the BN Supreme Council despite the various views expressed about the royal decree that rejected Muhyiddin’s proposition for a state of emergency to be declared.

“There were many views shared [during the meeting] but no decisions were made,” he said.

“We will have to bring the views and then decide on it at the Umno Supreme Council meeting.”

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