BN chiefs head for meeting with Malaysian King
KUALA LUMPUR - Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Zahid Hamidi and caretaker Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob are set to meet Malaysia’s King at 10am on Wednesday, after an emergency coalition meeting the night before failed to result in a collective decision.
Although there was no official statement from the Umno-led pact, leaders leaving the talks said they had sought to postpone the royal summons for their 30 MPs to be individually interviewed on who they supported as prime minister.
The Straits Times has learnt that Umno president Zahid and vice-president Ismail, who led government before polls were held, will seek to inform Sultan Abdullah Ahmad that their coalition’s stance remains unchanged: they support no candidate and will stay in opposition.
Pakatan Harapan (PH) chief Anwar Ibrahim and his Perikatan Nasional (PN) counterpart Muhyiddin Yassin are deadlocked in the race to be Malaysia’s next leader after Parliament was hung following Saturday’s closely fought election.
Although former premier Muhyiddin claimed on Tuesday evening that he had the support of 115 MPs in the 222-strong legislature, this ostensibly includes members of BN, whose leadership insists that all its MPs remain neutral.
But well-placed sources have told The Straits Times that even as of Tuesday, as many as 11 BN MPs want to back Tan Sri Muhyiddin, which would be sufficient to take him past the simple majority mark of 112.
The King had decreed on Tuesday that no MP had the majority and summoned both Datuk Seri Anwar and Mr Muhyiddin to propose a unity government.
Although former deputy premier Anwar said he “accepted the spirit” of such an arrangement, Mr Muhyiddin rejected the proposal outright, declaring that his PN had decided “from the very beginning” that it would not work with PH.
PH won 82 seats at Saturday’s vote, making it the largest coalition. However, while PN took just 73, parties from east Malaysia supply at least another 29, bringing Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president Muhyiddin across the 100-mark.