Palace: Malaysian parties have until Monday afternoon to stitch alliances, form govt

BenarNews Staff
Kuala Lumpur
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Palace: Malaysian parties have until Monday afternoon to stitch alliances, form govt Muhyiddin Yassin, Malaysia’s former prime minister and chairman of the Perikatan Nasional bloc, waves as he leaves after the general election in Shah Alam, Malaysia, Nov. 20, 2022.
[Lai Seng Sin/Reuters]

Malaysia’s king on Sunday set a Monday afternoon deadline for contending parties to inform him whether they have enough parliamentary support to form a government and name a prime ministerial candidate after the general election produced no clear winner.

Opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim and former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, whose coalitions won almost an equal number of seats in Saturday’s vote, both claimed hours after polls closed that they had secured the backing of a simple majority of lawmakers to form the next government.

The polling for 220 seats by a record number of voters showed that neither won the requisite 111, and they would need to ally with other parties or coalitions to reach that number. Completely out of the running was the long-ruling Barisan Nasional, which suffered a stunning defeat.

As the jockeying and maneuverings for power began, a kingmaker coalition in Sarawak announced Sunday that it would support Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional bloc and the losing Barisan coalition in the interest of forming a stable government.

Around the same time Sunday, Muhyiddin issued a statement saying he had the support of the same Sarawak coalition and other unnamed lawmakers to become PM, but he did not name Barisan.

In Malaysia, when election results are close, the king is the final judge of which political grouping has enough support to form a government.

In a statement, the Comptroller of the Royal Household said the palace had received the official election results early Sunday afternoon, and they “clearly showed no single party has [a] simple majority in parliament to form a government.”

Following a decree by the king, “the National Palace has sought the cooperation from Parliament speaker Azhar Azizan Harun to request all leaders of political parties with the most seats to inform the National Palace of its cooperation with other blocs to form a new government,” Comptroller Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said.

“The speaker will request the parties to submit the names of an MP that has the confidence of the majority of other MPs in the parties in the cooperation to become a Prime Minister to the Palace before 2 p.m., on November 21.”

The statement went on to say that the king “would like to remind all that the country needs a stable government, with authority and integrity to safeguard the wellbeing of the people and drive the country’s agenda forward.”

In the lead-up to the 15th general election, Malaysia saw three prime ministers take office during the past four years, two of them unelected.

Malaysian King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah inspects an honor guard during a welcoming at the Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Jan. 31, 2019. [Lai Seng Sin/Reuters]

The leading prime minister candidates to emerge from Saturday’s polls, Pakatan Harapan’s Anwar and Perikatan Nasional’s Muhyiddin, will be hoping for alliances that promise a full five-year term. The duo has ruled out working with each other. They share an unpleasant history.

Anwar’s Pakatan won 82 seats and Muhyiddin’s Perikatan and its allies won 79.

Late Sunday, it appeared that parties were maneuvering to block Anwar, the longtime prime ministerial hopeful, from having enough seats to head a government and become PM.

Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), the coalition in Sarawak state in Borneo, which said it would ally with Perikatan and Barisan, won 22 seats, while Barisan won 30 seats.

The seats won by all these coalitions total 131, which is more than the simple majority required to form a government.

GPS leader and Sarawak Premier Abang Johari Openg said Malaysia and the rest of the world would soon be facing economic challenges, with the situation expected to worsen next year.

“To ensure the people's wellbeing is secure and our economy is protected, a solid and strong government has to be formed quickly,” he said in a statement.

“With that in mind, GPS has made a decision to further strengthen and stabilize the government and people’s welfare by forming a coalition – [Perikatan-Barisan-GPS-GRS] – to form a stable and solid federal government for the sake of the people.”

“Our focus and main responsibility is to ensure the country’s stability and people’s well-being,” he added.

Opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan leader Anwar Ibrahim (center) and his colleagues hold a news conference about results of the general election at Subang Jaya, Malaysia, Nov. 20, 2022. [Hasnoor Hussain/Reuters]

On Sunday, Muhyiddin said he met with the GPS leader earlier in the day “to discuss regarding the formation of the federal government.”

“Negotiations are also being made with other like-minded parties and independent MPs,” he said in a social media post.

In response to the statement from the premier of Sarawak, Barisan chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi denied that the bloc he leads had agreed to ally with GPS and Perikatan.

“[B]arisan Nasional has never been in negotiation or agreed with Gabungan Parti Sarawak to form a government with Perikatan Nasional,” Zahid said in a statement.

“I would also like to inform there were no negotiation with Perikatan that would lead to a form of understanding in forming a government with the bloc,” he said, adding that all MPs aligned with Barisan who had won seats in the election had signed a document giving him ultimate authority in all decisions having to do with forming alliances with other parties.

Zahid, president of the United Malays National Organization that anchors Barisan, is facing strident calls to step down as chief of both the bloc and UMNO after their worst-ever showing an election.

Zahid, who is standing trial for corruption, was the prime mover behind the decision by Prime Minister and UMNO man Ismail Sabri Yaakob to hold elections almost a year ahead of schedule.

Zahid scraped by at his Bagan Datuk parliamentary seat, winning by a mere 348 votes.

Former UMNO MP Halimah Sadique said Zahid must resign immediately.

“Do not taint the sanctity of the UMNO again with shallow, unfounded and unprincipled thoughts just for personal gain,” she told Zahid on Instagram. Critics had said he wanted the polls advanced so the government would help him in his case.


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