Malaysia’s party meetings fuel talk of change in government


  • ASEAN+
  • Sunday, 23 Feb 2020

Dr Mahathir waving to journalists after the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia meeting at their headquarters in Petaling Jaya. Leaders from Malaysia’s ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition held several meetings on Sunday (Feb 23), fuelling talk that a new government would be formed soon comprising breakaway parties from PH and opposition parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS). - The Star/Straits Times/ANN

KUALA LUMPUR: Leaders from Malaysia’s ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition held several meetings on Sunday (Feb 23), fuelling talk that a new government would be formed soon comprising breakaway parties from PH and opposition parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).

Leaders and MPs from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia met at their headquarters in Petaling Jaya, Selangor this morning for around six hours.

Tun Dr Mahathir and party president Muhyiddin Yassin were seen at the building on Sunday, as well as youth wing chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, and other party MPs.

About a dozen ministers and MPs aligned to Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s deputy president and Economic Affairs Minister, were also said to have held a meeting at a hotel nearby.

The four-party PH coalition comprises multiracial PKR, the Chinese-led Democratic Action Party (DAP), Dr Mahathir’s Malay-based PPBM, and Parti Amanah Negara, a moderate Islamic party.

A party insider told The Straits Times that the plan is for those aligned to Azmin to leave PKR, which has 50 MPs - the largest number of MPs in Parliament. The insider said PPBM, which has 26 MPs, may leave PH.

A lawmaker aligned to PKR president Datuk Anwar Ibrahim, who is meant to take over from Dr Mahathir as prime minister, dismissed the speculation, saying: “I don’t think they have enough numbers.”

A new coalition will need at least 112 MPs - a majority of the 222 seats in Parliament - to form a government.

Speculation is rife that PPBM and Azmin’s team from PKR will make up the numbers by joining forces with the Umno-led opposition coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), and PAS.

The leadership of Umno and PAS - the country’s biggest Malay-Muslim parties - were attending a retreat over the weekend at the hillside resort of Janda Baik, just outside Kuala Lumpur, where the government change was believed to have been discussed.

Umno, which formed a political pact with PAS last year, is said to be holding a supreme council meeting later on Sunday.

They have also openly backed Dr Mahathir to stay on, amidst calls from Mr Anwar’s supporters for the 94-year-old premier to make way for his designated successor Mr Anwar.

It is said that the new government, if successfully formed, will comprise 41 MPs from BN, 26 from PPBM, 18 from PAS, nine from PH ally Parti Warisan Sabah, 19 from opposition Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), and 10 from PKR, totalling 123 MPs.

It is understood that leaders of this new coalition were granted an audience with Malaysia’s King on Sunday evening to discuss the transition.

Among those said to have attended the meeting with Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin were Mr Azmin, PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, reported The Star.

Also seen at the palace were Warisan president and Sabah chief minister Shafie Apdal, and PBB president and Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg.

If the plan succeeds, Mr Anwar will not be able to command sufficient support to take over as prime minister. His PKR will be left with 40 MPs, while the other remaining PH parties DAP, with 42 MPs and Amanah, which has 11 MPs, will no longer be part of the government.

The move comes after a PH presidential council meeting on Friday, which agreed that Dr Mahathir would be the one to decide when he steps down as prime minister.

Dr Mahathir has repeatedly said that he will step down after Malaysia hosts the Apec Summit in November.

Prior to the 14th general election in May 2018, PH had agreed that Dr Mahathir would be prime minister for two years before passing on the baton to Anwar. - The Strait Times/Asian News Network

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