Anwar Ibrahim says he has ‘strong majority’ to form a new government in Malaysia

Politician Anwar Ibrahim waves as he leaves his home in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 26, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim announced on Wednesday (Sep 23) that he has garnered a “strong, formidable, convincing majority” of Members of Parliament (MPs) to form a new government.

The Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president said in a press conference that as such, the current government led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has fallen.

“I was supposed to meet the king on Tuesday, 11am but it was postponed because His Majesty was hospitalised,” said Mr Anwar, adding that he had spoken with the king on telephone on Tuesday night. 

On Tuesday evening, Istana Negara said Malaysian King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had been admitted to the National Heart Institute.

When asked to reveal the list of MPs who are with him, Mr Anwar replied that he would only reveal this after meeting with the king. 

“We need a strong, stable government to run this country and save the country,” he said. 

Previously, Mr Anwar had been tipped to take over from Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who became the country’s seventh prime minister after Pakatan Harapan (PH) defeated Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in the 2018 general election.

Mr Anwar, who was serving a jail term for sodomy, was granted a royal pardon days after PH’s shock victory.

The transition plan from Dr Mahathir to Mr Anwar had been a significant source of tension in PH as the former had repeatedly declined to give a concrete timetable as to when he would step aside for Mr Anwar to take the reins.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad (right), Anwar Ibrahim (centre) and Muhyiddin Yassin leave after a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Jun 1, 2018. (File photo: Mohd RASFAN / AFP)

Dr Mahathir abruptly resigned in February and defectors from PH then worked with BN to form the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government. 

Mr Muhyiddin, president of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), became the prime minister, after the king met all MPs and found that Mr Muhyiddin likely commanded the support of majority of the lawmakers.

Dr Mahathir and his allies were subsequently removed from Bersatu.  

PH politicians have cried foul over PN’s political coup to wrest federal power, although the COVID-19 pandemic and government-instituted movement control order to stem the contagion temporarily abated much of the political feud. 

United Malays National Organisation, which has always held the prime minister position before BN’s fall and is now part of the PN government, has repeatedly called for a general election to be held to get rid of the “backdoor government” impression. 

Mr Muhyiddin, when campaigning in the ongoing Sabah state election, said a general election can be called if the state coalition he put together wins the Sabah polls on Sep 26. 

Mr Anwar is currently facing a lawsuit filed to challenge the legality of a royal pardon he received two years ago, with the dates for case management and trial fixed in 2021.

By : Vincent Tan – CNA

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