Malaysia's Anwar says has 'strong' support to form govt

Anwar Ibrahim speaks during an interview with Reuters in Petaling Jaya Malaysia

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Wednesday he had secured a "strong majority" from lawmakers to form a new government, seven months after a power grab within the ruling coalition brought down the administration elected in May 2018.

"Conclusively we have a strong, formidable majority", the 73-year-old said.

"Muhyiddin's government has fallen", Anwar told a packed news conference in a luxury hotel in Kuala Lumpur. However, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin affirmed that he is still the legal leader of the Southeast Asian country.

"Without going through the stipulated processes, Anwar's statement is purely an assumption", Muhyiddin said.

Pursuant to Article 43 (4) of the Federal Constitution, the prime minister has the option of requesting that the Agong dissolve Parliament.

While all governments are likely to promise large stimulus packages, political turmoil could hold up prospects for delivering on them and being able to find the financing for them.

He seems to reckon he can get away with it, using scarcely coded language about how being "aligned" with the federal government will help the people's "betterment".

Both ended up sidelined while Muhyiddin emerged as prime minister of a government in which the biggest party is the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) - which ruled Malaysia for decades until 2018 and to which Anwar, Mahathir and Muhyiddin all once belonged.

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He also said he has the support of some lawmakers from Muhyiddin's coalition and that he was open to working with the premier.

Who is Anwar Ibrahim?

However, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the chairman of the National Front - which controls a majority of MPs within the Muhyiddin-led coalition - acknowledged that some of the camp's lawmakers had backed Anwar.

"As of Sept 11, banking institutions have had discussions with over 1.4 million borrowers, and over 380,000 borrowers have confirmed that they really need this assistance", Mr Muhyiddin said.

The raw seat totals remain unclear, as does the way forward. Anwar remains allied to a largely Chinese party.

If this person is Anwar, he will be sworn in as the 9th prime minister of Malaysia. Anwar was freed with a royal pardon days after the polls and was Mahathir's designated successor before their alliance fell apart. He said he had been due to meet the king on Tuesday but the audience was postponed as the monarch is receiving treatment at a medical centre.

Anwar said he was "approached by several MPs from different parties" who were dissatisfied with the leadership of Prime Minister Muhaidin Yassin. "But we have sent a letter to His Majesty", he said. "None have come out openly to support him yet", he said.

Even within the opposition ranks, Anwar's support does not seem assured. "I think he can learn the lesson from Mahathir: don't resign".

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