UMNO says its ministers will stay in Cabinet, but wants general election once COVID-19 is under control

KUALA LUMPUR: The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) said late Thursday night (Oct 29) that all its ministers will stay in the Cabinet for now, while calling for a general election to be held once COVID-19 is under control.

This came amid talk of a possible Cabinet reshuffle, with some suggesting that there might be a deputy prime minister from UMNO.

In a statement released after the party held its second supreme council meeting this week, UMNO’s president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said: “All Cabinet members who represent UMNO will continue in government and commit to protecting the people’s welfare and defend the party’s honour.”

However, the party also stated that the people’s mandate should be returned to form a government that is stable, by holding a general election once the COVID-19 pandemic was under control and at a minimum level.

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

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READ: Commentary – UMNO’s in no shape to play kingmaker in Malaysia

The statement said UMNO would continue to be focused and consistent on the importance of a political ceasefire and the national reconciliation agenda, in order to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic while taking care of the people’s welfare and the country’s peace and political stability.

“UMNO wishes to repeat clearly that we uphold the king’s and rulers’ council’s decree to ensure the country’s administration is well-managed, based on the supremacy of laws and honouring the spirit enshrined in the Federal Constitution, and not taking the country into an emergency like what was proposed by the government,” said Ahmad Zahid.

He added that the party has refined the various views and hopes of the people regarding the upcoming budget to be tabled on Nov 6, and will forward these to the government.

These include the loan moratorium extension issue, household living assistance for those how had lost their income, assistance for unemployed youths, special payments for frontliners and other initiatives to raise Malaysia’s economic development. 

READ: Malaysia king urges MPs to give ‘solid support’ to budget 2021 for people’s well-being and economic recovery

Ahmad Zahid also said that any parties’ action to question UMNO’s decision to support the royal decree was irresponsible and extremely regretted. The party would also not hesitate to take firm action to protect both the rulers’ sovereignty and people’s interest. 

Although UMNO is not formally registered in the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition, the support of its 39 MPs are a crucial bloc in supporting Mr Muhyiddin Yassin’s slim parliamentary majority.

On Monday, the party reaffirmed its support for the PN government, but also urged better cooperation, stating that its political relationship should be based on respect and political consensus.

The Monday announcement was in the wake of the Malaysian king and rulers’ council’s decision to reject a proposal by Mr Muhyiddin on Oct 23, to declare a state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases and political instability.

A state of emergency would have seen the upcoming parliamentary sitting on Nov 2 suspended.

There was earlier speculation that some lawmakers from UMNO were prepared to work with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. UMNO politicians have been perceived to be seeking a more favourable redistribution of government positions for the party’s lawmakers.