KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 — Pakatan Harapan is open to the idea of extending the “memorandum of understanding” with the ruling coalition despite being critical of government policies, DAP lawmaker Anthony Loke Siew Fook suggested today as he called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to delay calling for a general election this year.

The Seremban MP said the MoU deadline extension would allow the Dewan Rakyat to table and pass crucial legislation to outlaw “party hopping”, and possibly pave the way for other key laws like a constituency development financing bill that would ban funding discrimination against Opposition MPs.

The anti-party hopping law was among several reform measures the Opposition coalition had pushed for when they agreed to a political ceasefire last year. The MoU would expire July 31 this year.

Loke argued that now is not the best time to hold elections, citing the fresh wave of Covid-19 infections fuelled by the more contagious Omicron variant.

From the 15 DAP standing candidates in the Johor polls, five of them have tested positive for Covid-19.

“Not only DAP candidates that have gotten infected, but also candidates from Perikatan Nasional and Barisan Nasional. The main issue is now is not the best time to have elections,” the DAP leader said when debating the Agong’s opening speech for this sitting.

“And I would like to suggest to Bera (Ismail) not to cave in to pressure from Bagan Datok…to dissolve Parliament and hold a general election. I would like to suggest to Bera after we pass the anti-party hopping law we can discuss an extension of the MoU,” he added.

“Or we can have a MoU 2.0. We can have an agreement that since Covid-19 isn’t settled yet, delay holding a general election.”

Bagan Datok is the constituency held by Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is said to be keen to hold a general election if his party wins the Johor state polls with a supermajority.

Ahmad Zahid is among several Umno leaders currently on trial for multiple corruption and power abuse charges. There is speculation that he and others hope a change of federal government could influence the outcome of their trials.

Pakatan Harapan signed the MoU with Ismail last September to restore political stability following a change of government.

In January, PKR communications chief Fahmi Fadzil said 13 of the 18 items in the MoU had been implemented.

PH had come under fire for signing the MoU, particularly from liberals who saw the pact as a dereliction of duty on the part of the Opposition to act as check and balance.

Loke called the allegations baseless.