Anwar says he has strong majority to form new govt

PM Muhyiddin says he's still legitimate leader, his govt remains intact

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim told a news conference at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur yesterday that he has a "strong, convincing, formidable majority" to form a new government, although he declined to reveal the number of MPs on his side. PHOT
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim told a news conference at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur yesterday that he has a "strong, convincing, formidable majority" to form a new government, although he declined to reveal the number of MPs on his side. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday that he has a "strong, convincing, formidable majority" to form a new government and that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's government has "collapsed".

He declined to give the number of MPs now on his side. A minimum of 112 MPs are needed to control Parliament in the 222-seat House.

Prior to this, the three-party Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition that he leads has 91 MPs - 38 lawmakers from his Parti Keadilan Rakyat, 42 from the Democratic Action Party and 11 from Parti Amanah Negara.

Datuk Seri Anwar, 73, told a news conference at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur that the MPs with him now include those from the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) alliance.

"We have a strong, convincing, formidable majority," Mr Anwar told reporters. "We need a strong stable government to run this country and to save the country."

He said the number of MPs on his side would be revealed only after his meeting with the King, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, to confirm that he now has parliamentary majority. The National Palace announced on Tuesday evening that Sultan Abdullah, 61, has been hospitalised with an unspecified ailment.

"With a clear and indisputable support and majority behind me, the government led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has collapsed," added Mr Anwar. The shock announcement comes seven months after the collapse of the PH government in late February. It was led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the time.

The speculation yesterday was that Mr Anwar's 91 MPs will be joined by a bloc of MPs from the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition and another group from Umno.

But a string of leaders from GPS, which has 18 MPs, denied that they are switching camp. Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, though, said he was informed that some MPs from Umno and his Barisan Nasional coalition had expressed their support for Mr Anwar. "I respect their stand," Mr Zahid said.

Mr Anwar said Dr Mahathir's group of five MPs, including the statesman himself, would not be joining his new government.

It was also not known if another group of nine MPs from Sabah, who have aligned themselves with Dr Mahathir, will throw in their lot with Mr Anwar.

 
 
 
 

When Parliament sat on July 13, PN had 113 lawmakers on its side.

PH had support from 109 MPs, including its allies in Sabah.

Mr Muhyiddin fought back yesterday, saying in a statement that he is still Malaysia's legitimate leader and that his PN government remains in power until Mr Anwar has proven through constitutional means his claim of majority support from the federal lawmakers.

"I take note of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's statement claiming he has majority support from Members of Parliament to form the government. The claim must be proven through the process and methods determined by the Federal Constitution," Mr Muhyiddin said.

"Without this process, the statement by Datuk Seri Anwar is only a claim. Until proven otherwise, the Perikatan Nasional government is still intact and I am the legitimate prime minister," he added.

In a statement, the 12 political parties that back the PN administration said the government has remained intact and rejected the claim that some lawmakers had jumped parties to support Mr Anwar.


Political twists and turns

KUALA LUMPUR • In another twist in Malaysian politics, formerly jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim announced yesterday that he has secured a majority among lawmakers to enable him to form a new government.

His move follows months of political upheaval that began in February and comes after a failed push for a confidence vote in Parliament against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

FEB 23

Politicians from the Pakatan Harapan (PH) ruling coalition explore a possible alliance with some members of the ousted former ruling party Umno and other groups, according to sources.

Datuk Seri Anwar says some coalition colleagues are trying to bring down the government and form a new one to deny him the premiership. Then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was angry that he was pressured by pro-Anwar ministers days earlier to set a clear handover timeline, sources have said.

 AGENCE FRANCE-PRE
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad leaving the National Palace on Feb 24, the day he resigned as prime minister. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

FEB 24

Tun Dr Mahathir resigns. The PH coalition collapses after Dr Mahathir's party withdraws. The King reappoints him as interim leader until a successor is named.

FEB 25

The palace says the King, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, will meet all 222 federal lawmakers before deciding on the next step.

FEB 26

Dr Mahathir apologises for the political turmoil, says he will return as premier if backed by Parliament to form a unity government not aligned with any political party. Mr Anwar opposes what he calls a "backdoor government". Three parties from PH nominate him as their prime ministerial candidate.

FEB 28

After meeting all lawmakers, the palace says the monarch is not confident that any parliamentarian has majority support to form a new government.

Dr Mahathir's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia nominates Tan Sri Muhyiddin as a prime ministerial candidate. Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia vow to back him.

FEB 29

Dr Mahathir says he will stand for the premiership on behalf of the former ruling coalition PH.

Dr Mahathir and Mr Anwar are allies again.

The King names Mr Muhyiddin as the next prime minister, assessing that he may have majority support in Parliament.

MARCH 1

Dr Mahathir promises to challenge Mr Muhyiddin's support in the House and says the King will no longer see him.

Mr Muhyiddin is sworn in as Malaysia's eighth prime minister.

MAY 8

Parliament's Speaker accepts Dr Mahathir's proposed May 18 vote of no confidence against Mr Muhyiddin.

MAY 13

The Speaker delays the confidence vote, after the government prioritises fighting the coronavirus outbreak and sets just one order of parliamentary business for a single-day sitting.

 AGENCE FRANCE-PRE
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in Parliament on July 13, when he won narrow backing to replace the Speaker. PHOTO: REUTERS 

JULY 13

Mr Muhyiddin wins narrow backing from lawmakers - just two votes - for his bid to replace the Speaker. The vote is widely seen as a gauge of Mr Muhyiddin's legislative support and political strength.

SEPT 23

Mr Anwar announces he has secured a majority of the 222 lawmakers to form a new government, and is seeking an audience with the King for assent to take over from Mr Muhyiddin.

Members of Mr Muhyiddin's coalition say they back the Premier.

Mr Muhyiddin says he is the rightful prime minister until proven otherwise by constitutional processes.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2020, with the headline 'Anwar says he has strong majority to form new govt'. Print Edition | Subscribe