PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Harapan’s wish to negotiate for an extension of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government is likely a bid to “buy time” before the next general election is called, say analysts.

Azmi Hassan, a senior fellow at Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research said any such extension would benefit the opposition bloc.

“For example, if a three-month extension is agreed upon, this would give Pakatan time to reorganise before the general election,” he said yesterday.

He also questioned why Pakatan was linking the MOU to the passing of the anti-hopping law before July 31.

“It is not so much about an MOU 2.0 but more of an extension of time.

“The Prime Minister has already made it clear that there will be no MOU 2.0 as he is bound by the Umno supreme council’s decision.

“Pakatan needs to buy more time. They know the Bill will take some time to be evaluated by the Parliament Special Select Committee,” he said.

Azmi also said any extension was likely to be for a short period to allow the Prime Minister to complete some of his goals.

“This way, he will be able to satisfy both Pakatan and his own party,” he added.

On Monday, DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke said Pakatan was willing to negotiate with Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on extending the MOU beyond July 31 if the anti-party hopping law was passed in Parliament.

Universiti Sains Malaysia political science expert Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian described Pakatan’s move as a threat because the Opposition needed more time to prepare for elections.

“Pakatan today is not what it was before GE14.

“It needs to buy time, particularly to put together the ‘big tent’ plan which has yet to materialise,” he said.

He added that Ismail Sabri might consider giving some leeway for a brief extension based on positive feedback from the rakyat.

“The Prime Minister seems to be doing what the people want.

“If he can convince the top Umno leadership, he may consider giving a brief extension maybe until after the budget announcement,” he said.

Sivamurugan noted that this was done in 1999, when Parliament was dissolved to hold the general election in mid-November without the passing of the budget.

Dr Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, noted that Pakatan looked likely to lose many of the seats it had won in the last general election.

“So, it needs to buy some time, even if it’s just a few months or at most a year, to regroup in time for the next general election, however faint that hope might be,” he said.

However, he felt that Umno would ultimately stick to its guns and not extend the July 31 deadline, especially since it had the momentum with its winning streak at the recent state elections in Melaka and Johor.

Universiti Malaya political analyst Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi echoed that sentiment.

“Pakatan is worried that it can’t defend its seats if the MOU ends and the general election is called soon,” he said.

He noted that the results of the state elections in Melaka, Johor and Sarawak showed that support for Pakatan had waned considerably since 2018.