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Malaysian PM Ismail Sabri says he will abide by UMNO's decision on not extending MOU with Pakatan Harapan

Malaysian PM Ismail Sabri says he will abide by UMNO's decision on not extending MOU with Pakatan Harapan

File photo of Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob. (Photo: Bernama)

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said he would abide by the United Malays National Organisation's (UMNO) decision that the government's Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Pakatan Harapan (PH) on bilateral cooperation should not be extended beyond Jul 31.

“The decision has been made yesterday. 

“We will wait until Jul 31 and as of yesterday, the supreme council (of UMNO) said there is no need to extend the MOU. That is the decision for now,” he told reporters on Friday during an event in the administrative capital.

While saying that the supreme council’s decision should be followed, the prime minister stressed that if there were any developments that required changes to the decision, he would bring the matter to the supreme council.

“This is a decision of the supreme council. As the vice-president of UMNO, I am also subject to decisions made by the supreme council,” he said, adding that the deadline is still months away.

When asked if UMNO’s decision meant that the polls would take place soon, Mr Ismail Sabri said: “Not sure yet.”

The historic MOU between the federal government and opposition coalition PH was inked in September last year to strengthen political stability amid the COVID-19 pandemic, following turmoil which saw the third prime minister being installed since the 14th general election. 

The deal is in effect from the date of signing until parliament is dissolved. The government also promised not to dissolve parliament before Jul 31, according to the MOU.

In a statement on Thursday, UMNO secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said the party’s supreme council decided in a meeting that the MOU, which ends on Jul 31, should not be extended.

NO NEED FOR EXTENSION: AHMAD ZAHID 

UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told Malaysian media on Friday that there was no need to extend the MOU, after considering the current political landscape.

"What was signed between the government and the parties was an agreement in the form of a confidence and supply agreement and that was suitable then,” he said, according to the Star. 

"Because six months has lapsed since it was signed, UMNO is of the opinion that there is no need for any party to propose an extension of the MOU," said Mr Ahmad Zahid, who is fighting a slew of graft charges in court.

Mr Ismail Sabri is the first prime minister from UMNO who is not the party president.

Backed by 114 MPs, he was sworn in as Malaysia’s ninth prime minister on Aug 21 last year. 

This came after Mr Muhyiddin Yassin, his predecessor from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, resigned after losing majority support in the Lower House.

With Mr Ismail Sabri’s ascent to the prime minister’s post, UMNO, which had lost its grip on federal power after suffering major defeat in the last general election, is back in the driver’s seat. 

The current federal government is made up of several coalitions, including Barisan Nasional (BN), Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Gabungan Parti Sarawak.

However, BN has gone against PN in the recent Melaka and Johor polls, and will likely challenge each other again in the general election.

United Malays National Organisation president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. (Photo: Bernama)

UMNO, a main pillar of BN, has signalled its intention to push for the 15th general election to happen soon. 

On Thursday, it named Mr Ismail Sabri as the prime ministerial candidate for the 15th general election. 

Thanking UMNO’s supreme council for unanimously nominating him to be BN prime ministerial candidate, Mr Ismail Sabri said it showed that the party is united. 

“Many parties are claiming that there are groups in UMNO, but yesterday’s decision clearly shows that what is said by them is untrue because UMNO continues to be strong and there is strong solidarity. 

“There are no camps in UMNO,” he said at the Friday event.

Source: CNA/rv (ih)

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