Where can Anwar draw his numbers from for his takeover bid?

KUALA LUMPUR : PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s claim to have the majority to form a new government and replace Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional has led to speculation about which lawmakers support him.

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur September 23, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur September 23, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

Officially, only Pakatan Harapan ally Parti Amanah Negara has confirmed its lawmakers — all 11 — supported Anwar in this.null

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng reiterated that his party’s 42 MPs would support Anwar’s takeover only if he has the majority to do so.

Malay Mail spoke to other lawmakers about their positions.

While rival parties have denied supporting Anwar, it is noteworthy that he stressed during his announcement that he has the support of individual lawmakers rather than parties.null

Assuming all of PH supported him, Anwar would have 91 seats for the 112 he needed.

Other Opposition lawmakers he could draw from might come from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (five), Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal’s Parti Warisan Sabah (nine), Upko (one), Parti Sarawak Baru (two), and a single seat from Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s Malaysia United Democratic Alliance (Muda).

All combined, Anwar would still need at least three lawmakers from the government side before he could claim a simple majority. He purported to have a “formidable” majority earlier.

However, it is also not certain that Dr Mahathir and Shafie’s parties will support Anwar as both men rejected him for the position of prime minister following the February political crisis.

A PKR source claimed that discussions with other parties including Bersatu and Umno have gone on for months.

“The announcement today is the culmination of months of work, after the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government collapsed in February.

“We are targeting at least 20 MPs to cross-over for now,” the person said without disclosing which parties these would be from.

“Mathematically, if all goes well, Anwar could get at least 129 out of 222 MPs support for now, with the possibility of getting 138,” the source added.

PN and its associated parties issued a statement this evening affirming continued support for Muhyiddin to remain as the prime minister.

Barisan Nasional and Umno

BN chairman and Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi issued a statement to say he has been told that several of his side’s MPs back Anwar and that he would not stand in their way.

One Umno source confirmed that the party’s lawmakers have met with Anwar, but did not say how many.

“Yes, there have been meetings since a few months ago with Anwar. But the matter was not addressed in the Supreme Council,” said the source.

The source also said Zahid’s statement took the party by surprise as many in the supreme council were unaware of this.

“Only two or three of them know about the statement (from Zahid). With many of the leaders in Sabah campaigning, it might create tension,” said the source.

Earlier, Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said the party remained in support of Muhyiddin.

Umno currently has 39 MPs as it lost several to Bersatu

Anwar and his strategist before the press conference on Sept 23, 2020.

Gabungan Parti Sarawak

While GPS chairman Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg has come out to reject Anwar, coalition sources told Malay Mail previously that there was unhappiness with Muhyiddin’s federal government.

One source told Malay Mail that only a handful of the 18 MPs in GPS still favour PN privately.

“Currently the only ones who mati-mati(convincingly) want to defend the government are just a few. We have (Datuk Seri) Wan Junaidi (Tuanku Jaafar) and (Datuk) Alexander Nanta Linggi. Both Cabinet ministers.

“But I think everyone is waiting for what’s best for Sarawak,” the person said without elaborating.

Anwar’s announcement today was the latest in the political crisis triggered by a February 21 PH presidential council meeting in which he had allegedly planned to give Dr Mahathir an ultimatum to hand over power.

Two days later, Muhyiddin and then-PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali led several lawmakers from PH at the time to gather with rival politicians at the Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya in what has since been dubbed the “Sheraton Move”

A day later, Dr Mahathir resigned as the prime minister but was appointed the interim PM by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

After meeting personally with all elected federal lawmakers, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’Ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah concluded that Muhyiddin commanded majority support in Parliament and named him the PM despite Dr Mahathir’s attempt to be reappointed.

On May 8, then Speaker of Parliament Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof accepted Dr Mahathir’s motion of no-confidence against Muhyiddin but this was not debated as the meeting was truncated to just a single sitting, ostensibly due to Covid-19.

When Parliament reconvened in July, PN managed to remove Ariff by just two votes, which has remained the only indication of Muhyiddin’s numerical superiority among lawmakers.

BY : RADZI RAZAK – MALAY MAIL

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