PETALING JAYA: Umno is considering an “internal coup” that would see Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin pushed out while the government remains intact, according to a Singapore report.
The Straits Times (ST) newspaper said Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders have been discussing the way forward in the wake of tensions between the government and Palace over the revocation of emergency ordinances.
The report said most in BN are open to remaining in the ruling Perikatan Nasional-led administration but several Umno MPs want Muhyiddin to be replaced.
He has resisted calls for his resignation, while some in Umno have called for party vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is deputy prime minister, to be named as an interim prime minister.
“It’s not quite clear how you’d operationalise it if the PM doesn’t want to leave”, said one source.
With a slim majority, a push for a change in PM would require nearly all government backbenchers including those from Muhyiddin’s Bersatu to support such a move.
“The more important question is who would be No. 2,” said another source, referring to ambitions of Bersatu leaders like senior minister for economy Azmin Ali, home minister Hamzah Zainudin and Bersatu deputy president Ahmad Faizal Azumu.
The report said one Bersatu official who declined to be named said they were aware that some in Umno wanted Ismail to be named interim PM, though there is no formal push.
Calls have intensified in recent days for Muhyiddin’s resignation along with that of other senior government figures such as law minister Takiyuddin Hassan, Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Azizan Harun and attorney-general Idrus Harun.
Umno has also urged its MPs to withdraw support for Muhyiddin and to distance themselves from Putrajaya amid the tensions with Istana Negara.
The ST report also quoted former minister Nazri Aziz as saying that about 30 MPs met on Sunday night and agreed “to stand firm in government”.
“We can’t leave the government now, because we can’t have an election during this Covid-19 wave, and then do you want Anwar Ibrahim to take over?” he was quoted as saying, referring to the PKR president and opposition leader.