KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — Umno was considering several candidates to replace Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the prime minister today, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said to cast doubt over Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s rumoured selection for the role.
The Umno president also pointed out that he was not nominating himself for the position despite his party controlling the most parliamentary seats among those that had been part of Muhyiddin’s administration.
“In the interests of the nation, it never crossed my mind to put myself up as a candidate to be prime minister despite heading the largest party.
“As such, Umno, as a party with vast and lengthy experience in governing the country, will consider several candidates,” he said in a statement.
Ahmad Zahid went on to urge his party’s leaders and lawmakers to set aside their differences and cooperate in the matter.
Yesterday, it was revealed that a campaign was underway to propose Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri as a replacement for Muhyiddin.
Ismail Sabri was among the Umno lawmakers that defied the party’s decision to withdraw support for Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional, and led a supposed group of 31 Barisan Nasional lawmakers to endorse Muhyiddin to stay on prior to the latter’s resignation today.
Ahmad Zahid also set several conditions for the next administration, saying the safeguards were needed to prevent the country from entering another political crisis.
He suggested that whatever government was formed next should only be temporary and with a view to only manage the Covid-19 pandemic and assist in the country’s economic recovery.
The incoming Cabinet should resemble a “war Cabinet” focused entirely on the pandemic and no other matters, he said.
He also called for a political ceasefire to ensure that the truce would hold and for those in power to avoid using government agencies against their rivals.
“Once the country achieves herd immunity and the situation permits the 15th general election, then the government must be dissolved in order to return to absolute mandate to the citizens,” he added.
Muhyddin resigned as the prime minister today after conceding that he longer possessed the majority needed to remain in the position.
Ahmad Zahid was a central figure in this as he withdrew Umno’s support for the Perikatan Nasional government.
Despite failing to convince all of his party’s lawmakers to abandon PN, Ahmad Zahid was able to get enough to openly reject Muhyddin as to put the latter’s legitimacy under serious doubt.