Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Wednesday, September 23, he had the “strong” backing of lawmakers in parliament and was seeking an audience with the king to form a new government.
The Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil since an alliance that swept to power in 2018, which was headed by Mahathir Mohamad and included Anwar, collapsed in February amid bitter infighting.
Muhyiddin Yassin became premier at the head of a coalition backed by a scandal-plagued party which had been ousted at the polls two years earlier, but he had only a wafer-thin majority in parliament.
Speaking at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, veteran politician Anwar – who has long sought to become prime minister – said he now had the backing of enough MPs to form the government and oust Muhyiddin.
“Conclusively we have a strong, formidable majority,” he said, but did not reveal the number of lawmakers backing him.
“The government under the leadership of Muhyiddin Yassin has fallen.”
A government must command the support of a majority of the 222 MPS in parliament.
The was no immediate reaction from Muhyiddin. He was due to give a televised address to the nation later Wednesday.
Anwar said he had been granted an audience with the king on Tuesday but the meeting was postponed as the monarch is receiving treatment at a heart center in Kuala Lumpur.
The 73-year-old said he would meet with the king, who formally appoints the country’s prime minister, once he recovers, and would reveal more details to the public afterwards.
‘Strong, stable leadership’
Anwar said a number of MPs had “expressed their deep dissatisfaction with the current leadership”.
“They recognize that the country must have strong, stable and accountable leadership to manage the crisis and to do so with compassion and concern for the plight of all people who are struggling in this pandemic economy.”
His move came ahead of weekend elections for the legislature in the eastern state of Sabah, which will be a major test of the current government’s popularity.
Muhyiddin’s government has had the difficult task of leading Malaysia through the coronavirus pandemic, and the economy suffered its worst contraction in more than 20 years in the second quarter amid a strict lockdown.
Long-time opposition leader Anwar was a key figure in the alliance that won a shock victory at landmark elections in 2018, toppling a scandal-plagued coalition that had ruled Malaysia uninterrupted for over 6 decades.
Voters kicked out the old regime in large part due to anger at former premier Najib Razak’s involvement in a massive financial scandal which saw billions looted from state coffers.
Mahathir, now 95, became prime minister for a second time and Anwar was released from jail, where he had been serving a sentence after being convicted of dubious sodomy charges.
Mahathir had promised one-time nemesis Anwar he would hand over power to him once he stepped down, but tensions grew between rival factions amid suspicions that Mahathir would renege on the deal.
Mahathir then quit as premier, leading to the government’s collapse.
Muhyiddin outmaneuvred Mahathir and succeeded in forming a coalition dominated by the country’s Muslim majority that included Najib’s party, and was appointed premier by the king without an election. – Rappler.com
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