Ismail Sabri as PM is ‘old wine in new bottle’, says analyst

PETALING JAYA: The potential appointment of Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob as prime minister is akin to having “old wine in a new bottle”, says an analyst.

The former deputy prime minister, who was the Perikatan Nasional-led government’s main non-health spokesman on Covid-19 matters, has now won the backing of Barisan Nasional, Bersatu, PAS and GPS as their prime ministerial candidate, after Muhyiddin Yassin’s resignation on Monday.

“This is like old wine in a new bottle, or as the Chinese like to say, ‘You change the soup but you don’t change the ingredients. You just cook a different type of soup or with a different flavour’,” Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun told FMT.

Oh predicted that instead of a wholesale change in government, the country could expect to see a “Cabinet reshuffle” with nearly the same faces in the new administration, albeit holding different ministerial positions.

“The whole effort to combat the pandemic and revive the economy will not be any different from the Muhyiddin regime, and that regime was infamous for its failure in combating the pandemic and its utter incompetence in reviving the economy.

“It will not be a very awe-inspiring government.”

Ismail Sabri Yaakob was the PN government’s main non-health spokesman on Covid-19 matters, and will likely not bring any change to the handling of the pandemic, says an analyst. (Bernama pic)

Oh noted that if the same figures in the previous administration were in the new government, it was “almost a guarantee” that the country’s inability to combat the pandemic and revive the economy would persist.

“And now that Umno is in charge, it will reflect very badly on them in the next general election,” he warned.

With the PN government seen as having failed to properly manage the pandemic, academic Azmi Hassan said a new administration led by Ismail could counter this negative perception by doing two things.

First, the new Cabinet should have fresh faces, and second, the incoming ministers must be efficient and “good at their jobs”.

“I think the public will then give them a chance,” said Azmi.

“If it’s the same old faces from the previous Cabinet who didn’t perform, then it will be the same old never-ending fiasco.”

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun has asked all MPs to provide statutory declarations naming their choice for prime minister by 4pm today.

By : Jason Thomas – FMT

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