By John Isaac
PRIME Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is waiting for Umno to nominate an ‘acceptable’ candidate to become his deputy, according to a report citing unnamed sources.
The report by Sinchew Daily quoted one source claiming that Muhyiddin is open to appointing an Umno representative as deputy prime minister, and the ball has always been in Umno’s court to name a candidate.
However, it was said that Muhyiddin cannot accept Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as his deputy due to the court cases still pending against him.
“Tan Sri (Muhyiddin) can accept Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein who does not currently hold a party post.
“It’s just a matter of waiting for Umno’s recommendation, but if they insist on nominating Zahid, sorry,” the source reportedly said.
The report also quoted an Umno source claiming the party has tasked a negotiation committee to discuss new terms with Bersatu on further cooperation, including appointments to the deputy premiership and other posts.
In addition, the report also quoted sources saying that if Muhyiddin fails to satisfy Umno’s demands, Umno will expedite a snap general election once the Covid-19 pandemic abates.
“Yesterday’s (Umno supreme council meeting) also discussed the possibility of bringing forward the general election.
“But this depends on Muhyiddin’s next move including whether he offers Umno a new deal, such as the appointment as deputy prime minister, and efforts to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and revitalise the economy,” a source present at the meeting supposedly told the Chinese-language daily.
Malaysiakini which carried the Sinchew report is unable to immediately verify the report’s claims.
Umno has been jockeying for a greater role in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, amid unhappiness in the party grassroots on being side-lined from government appointments despite having more MPs than Bersatu.
Its political bureau had previously resolved to reconsider the party’s support for PN, but later said it would back the PN government to focus on tackling the pandemic and its economic impact.
Currently, the post of deputy prime minister is vacant.