Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Malaysia’s Anwar has ‘backing’ to form gov’t

Malaysia’s Anwar has ‘backing’ to form gov’t

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim - who has long sought to become prime minister - said he now had the backing of enough MPs to form the government. AFP

Malaysia’s Anwar has ‘backing’ to form gov’t

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Wednesday he had “formidable” support from members of parliament (MP) to form a new government, but the prime minister insisted he remained the country’s legitimate leader.

The Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil since an alliance that swept to power in 2018, which was headed by Dr Mahathir Mohamad and included Anwar, collapsed in February amid bitter infighting.

Muhyiddin Yassin became prime minister at the head of a coalition backed by the scandal-plagued Umno party which had been ousted at the polls two years earlier, but with 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,” the 73-year-old said. “The government under the leadership of Muhyiddin Yassin has fallen.”

However, there were immediately doubts over his claim as he did not reveal how many MPs were backing him or which parties they were from. A government must command the support of a majority of the 222 MPs in parliament.

To form a new government Anwar must prove to the king, who formally appoints Malaysia’s prime ministers, that he has enough support in parliament, and he has yet to meet the monarch.

He said an audience with the king originally planned for Tuesday had been postponed as the monarch was having medical treatment. The national palace confirmed a meeting had been scheduled.

Muhyiddin appeared unshaken by the opposition leader’s stance. He challenged Anwar to go through the proper process to prove his claim to the premiership.

“Until proven otherwise, the government still stands firm and I am the legitimate prime minister,” he claimed in a statement.

The parties backing Muhyiddin’s coalition slammed Anwar’s move as “cheap publicity”.

“His latest action highlights his greedy and power-crazy attitude which pays no heed to the country’s political and economic stability, or the fate of the people who are badly affected by Covid-19,” they said in a joint statement.

Other members of the government brushed off the move, with International Trade and Industry Minister Azmin Ali brandishing Anwar an “incorrigible liar and political psychopath”.

Anwar’s 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 administration has had the difficult task of leading Malaysia through the coronavirus pandemic, with the economy suffering its worst contraction in more than 20 years in the second quarter amid a strict lockdown.

But restrictions have been eased and authorities have won praise for their handling of the outbreak, which has been relatively small – Muhyiddin received a 69 per cent approval rating in a survey earlier this month.

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 Umno coalition that had ruled Malaysia uninterrupted for over six decades.

Voters kicked out the old regime in large part due to anger at former prime minister 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.

But the government collapsed amid tensions between rival factions over whether Mahathir would stick to a promise to hand power to one-time nemesis, Anwar. Meantime, Muhyiddin seized power without an election.


  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Cintri strike ends, workers’ contracts to be terminated

    CINTRI (Cambodia) Ltd rubbish collectors who have been on strike for the past 13 days agreed to return to work starting Wednesday evening after the company agreed to terminate their contracts at the end of January next year and provide seniority payments and other benefits to