BN chief Zahid accused of lying to Malaysian King, going against coalition’s stance, Latest World News - The New Paper

BN chief Zahid accused of lying to Malaysian King, going against coalition’s stance

KUALA LUMPUR - The chief of Barisan Nasional (BN), Zahid Hamidi, has been accused of lying to the Malaysian King and going against the coalition’s collective stance to remain neutral in the bitter fight between two larger alliances to form the next government.

BN’s top leadership had agreed on Tuesday that it would take a neutral position as the Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) alliances raced to secure support from lawmakers to control Parliament after last Saturday’s inconclusive general election.

Former Cabinet minister Annuar Musa has claimed that Zahid carried out a “callous act” by sending a letter to Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, who is mediating in the crisis, claiming that all 30 BN’s Members of Parliament are backing PH.

“If the letter to the King is an attempt at lying to the ruler, it is a very heavy offence,” Tan Sri Annuar said in a Facebook posting on Wednesday. He posted a copy of the letter that was sent to the ruler. Two BN leaders have confirmed the letter’s veracity.

One of BN’s four component parties, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), has renewed its call for Zahid to resign. MCA secretary-general Chong Sin Woon said the ”claims in the letter were completely out of line with the decision made by the BN supreme council”.

“In both meetings, the supreme council resolved that BN will not support anyone as the prime minister at this moment,” he added.

PH led by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim won 82 seats in the polls, while rival PN led by ex-premier Muhyiddin Yassin won 73.

Both men are vying to become the 10th Malaysian prime minister and have wooed BN, which has 30 seats in the 222-strong federal Parliament. A minimum 112 seats are needed to secure parliamentary majority.

Zahid has faced several calls to resign following BN’s worst electoral performance in the 15 general elections since independence. The 30 seats won by BN compared with 54 seats it secured in 2018 when the coalition led by then-premier Najib Razak was kicked out of power for the first time.

On Sunday, former Cabinet minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Zahid must quit following BN’s disastrous performance.

In a tweet, Mr Khairy said a general ought to be dignified and take responsibility for losing a war. “This especially so when the general’s strategy led to the loss of many soldiers in the battlefield. The president must step down. Now.”

Meanwhile, short video platform TikTok said on Wednesday it was on high alert for content that violates its guidelines in Malaysia after authorities warned of a rise in ethnic tension on social media.

“We continue to be on high alert and will aggressively remove any violative content,” TikTok, which is owned by the China-based firm ByteDance, said in a statement.

TikTok said it had been in contact with Malaysian authorities on severe and repeat violations of its community guidelines since the lead-up to the election.

One of the alliances hoping to form a government, PN, is a conservative, largely ethnic Malay, Muslim group. It includes the Islamist party, Parti Islam SeMalaysia, which has advocated for a strict interpretation of shariah Islamic religious law.

The other alliance, PH, has more multi-ethnic, progressive parties that includes the Democratic Action Party, a predominantly ethnic Chinese party that has traditionally been unpopular with voters from the majority Malay-Muslim community.

Social media users have reported numerous TikTok posts since the election that mentioned a riot in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on May 13, 1969, in which about 200 people were killed, days after opposition parties supported by ethnic Chinese voters made inroads in an election.

TikTok said it had removed videos with May 13-related content, saying it had “zero tolerance” for hate speech and violent extremism.

TikTok told Reuters it would remove any accounts operated by users under the age of 13 after some parents complained that their children had been exposed to offensive content. - THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS