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Malaysia opposition leader Anwar claims 'formidable' majority to form new government

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

Anwar Ibrahim has claimed he has a strong majority (majoriti kukuh), which he says means Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's government has fallen. Parties including those in the Barisan Nasional as well as the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party signed a joint statement to reaffirm support for the premier. Sultan Abdullah is now receiving medical attention at the National Heart Institute, but Anwar said the conversation happened over the phone. Anwar was freed with a royal pardon days after the polls and was Mahathir's designated successor before their alliance fell apart.

There was no immediate reaction from Muhyiddin.

Anwar said Muhaidin's government and its "70 ministers" had spent too much time "distributing positions, appointments and contracts" to stick to (a) very empty and razor-thin majority. "I'm not talking about a majority of four or five or six - it's more than that", he said.

Anwar said he was "approached by several MPs from different parties" who were dissatisfied with the leadership of Prime Minister Muhaidin Yassin. He said it would be inclusive of all races and religions, and there's no urgency to hold elections. Muhyiddin has said he may hold a snap election sooner if his coalition wins the Sabah polls. Instead, he announced billions of ringgit (dollars) in new cash handouts to help small businesses and the poor amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But the leader of the biggest party in Muhyiddin's coalition said he was aware that many lawmakers from his Malay party are backing Anwar as premier and that he can not stop them.

Mr Anwar, 73, has had a tumultuous political career over the past two decades.

Muhyiddin came to power in March after securing a parliamentary majority with the support of UMNO, which was defeated in the 2018 election.

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.

However, the busy leader has plainly not thought to adjust this line of electioneering since the morning and Anwar's shock announcement that it is actually he who now has the majority of federal MPs and is moving to assume leadership of the federal government.

If the king decides to exercise his discretion to withhold consent to Muhyiddin's request, then he will exercise his discretion to appoint an individual as prime minister, Article 40 (2)(a) of the Federal Constitution, whom in the Agong's judgement, is likely to command the confidence of majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat, as per Article 43 (2)(a) of the Federal Constitution.

"I think the second option [of dissolution] is most likely, to return back to the people to get a fresh mandate", he said.