Until Anwar can reveal the list of his supporters, the uneasy calm will remain under PN while speculation continues
by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by ARIF KARTONO
MALAYSIANS calmly went about their business a day after Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (picture) announced that he had enough MPs to bring down the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.
Even the normal campaigning for the Sabah election, due tomorrow, was muted as political parties digested Anwar’s announcement on Tuesday and scrambled to make sense of where their politicians stand.
His claims must now be put on hold pending an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong where Anwar will present his still unannounced list of backers in Parliament.
Anwar had secured an audience scheduled for Tuesday to present his case, but it was postponed because the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was admitted to the National Heart Institute because of ill-health.
In contrast to the hectic pronouncements made on Wednesday, only former Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said anything noteworthy yesterday.
In a statement, Dr Mahathir repeated his call for PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to face a no-confidence vote and resolve questions over the majority his government holds in Parliament.
He reminded Muhyiddin that any support that he now enjoyed from Umno was fragile after its president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted to have said even though the party is part of the present government, Umno would not stop its MPs if they individually want to support Anwar’s bid to become PM.
“If the statement by Ahmad Zahid is true and is based on his position as Umno and Barisan Nasional chief, this means Muhyiddin can no longer claim he has a solid majority to be the PM.
“The important thing now is to establish whether the PM still has the majority to remain in his position. Whether Anwar has a majority or not, that is a separate thing he will need to prove,” Dr Mahathir said.
Anwar’s latest bid to form a new government without revealing the numbers backing him has created a new wave of uncertainty ahead of a crucial snap election in Sabah.
The Opposition leader claimed he has control of nearly two-thirds of the 222 seats in Parliament, a majority he described as “strong and formidable” to seize control of Putrajaya.
Initial reactions suggested he had the support of his Pakatan Harapan allies, including those in Sabah. Speculation was also strong that Anwar has the backing of at least 15 MPs from Umno.
While key members of the PN coalition had signed a joint statement on Wednesday to reaffirm support for Muhyiddin as PM, Ahmad Zahid said several Mps from Umno — the largest in the ruling bloc — had indicated support for Anwar.
Until Anwar can reveal the list of his supporters, the uneasy calm will remain under PN administration while speculation continues.
University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute director Prof James Chin told The Malaysian Reserve that Ahmad Zahid’s statement should be read between the lines, in view of the denials voiced by other Umno leaders.
“When Ahmad Zahid said there were several Umno MPs showing support for Anwar, he was basically talking about himself and his faction, which has about 15 MPs. He was sending out a signal that he is willing to enter into a coalition with Anwar, and that he is unhappy with Muhyiddin,” Chin said.
Chin said PN’s inability to settle on a name itself implied that another restructuring was due. He said the next few days will be critical as those who have shown their support for Anwar will have to bear political consequences for jumping away from the party line.
“If you don’t move quickly, you will lose momentum. What you want to do is to move quickly and create a herd mentality, so if everyone sees that you are actually moving and have enough support, this will encourage other people to jump into your camp,” Chin said.