PETALING JAYA: A former minister has hit out at Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and his Cabinet, saying they are so inept that none of them are worthy of being a “poster boy”.

“The country is in a bad shape and it’s because we lack good leadership. This bunch is clueless,” Zaid Ibrahim told FMT.

The former law minister listed a slew of problems facing the country, from a stuttering economy, labour shortages, skyrocketing food prices and rising inflation to an “ineffective” finance minister who “does not understand the struggles of those on the ground”.

“People are suffering and the person in charge of the nation’s purse doesn’t seem to comprehend what is happening. It is quite alarming,” he said, in a reference to finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz’s reluctance to allow more withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

Zaid said the reality was that the prime minister is in a difficult position owing to his fragile support.

“His hands are tied so he has to keep choosing from the same pool of incompetents who were part of the Kerajaan Gagal that took over after the Sheraton Move,” said Zaid. “Anyone who becomes the prime minister in this scenario will face the same problem. That is why we need a general election.”

Zaid said only a general election could save Malaysia, by allowing a clean slate.

“Some say no one will have the majority. How do they know? Do they have a crystal ball? Do we stymie democracy because we think we can predict the results? That’s ridiculous.”

He said the best way to stop the political manoeuvring that has held the country back was to hold GE15 and let the people decide the way forward.

Prime Minister Ismail’s weakened position was highlighted this week when Bersatu information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan said his party’s support for Ismail was “conditional”.

In response, Umno Supreme Council member Puad Zarkashi said an early general election would settle the issue of Bersatu’s threats over its support for Ismail, and would allow the next prime minister more freedom to govern.