Malaysian opposition leader claims he can topple prime minister

Anwar Ibrahim presents king with evidence that he has enough support to lead

Anwar Ibrahim, founder and president of the People’s Justice Party, speaks during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Tuesday. Photograph: Samsul Said/Bloomberg

Anwar Ibrahim, founder and president of the People’s Justice Party, speaks during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Tuesday. Photograph: Samsul Said/Bloomberg

 

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says he has presented the nation’s king with evidence that he has enough support among legislators to topple the prime minister and form a new government, although the the palace has denied his claim.

Mr Anwar said he presented the monarch with evidence of support from more than 120 legislators, which would allow him to unseat Muhyiddin Yassin.

The opposition chief said the king pledged to abide by the constitution, and would consult leaders from other parties before making a decision. He declined to give details, urging Malaysians to be patient and give the monarch space to review the evidence.

“These documents made it abundantly clear that we have registered a formidable and convincing majority among parliamentarians,” Mr Anwar told a news conference after the royal meeting.

“Prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin has lost his majority and therefore it would be appropriate for him to resign.”

After the news conference, the palace released a statement denying that Mr Anwar provided evidence of support. It said he only told Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah how many legislators supported him but did not reveal their identities.

It said the king advised him “to abide by and respect the legal process” based on the constitution.

Mr Muhyiddin, who took power in March after securing enough support in parliament to unseat Mr Anwar’s reformist alliance, has previously dismissed his opponent’s claim to a majority. The premier currently has a slim two-seat majority in the 222-seat parliament and has been struggling to maintain support amid infighting in his coalition.

Allies in his Malay-centric ruling coalition also denied supporting Mr Anwar, and branded him a “desperado” for seeking to take power as the country struggles with coronavirus.

The audience with the king was slated three weeks ago, but postponed as the king was treated in hospital.

Mr Anwar’s Alliance of Hope was elected in 2018 but collapsed after Mr Muhyiddin withdrew his party and linked up with opposition parties to form a Malay-centric government in March. Then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad resigned in protest, saying he would not work with parties accused of corruption that he ousted in the 2018 polls.

Mr Anwar said on Tuesday that he extended an olive branch to Mr Muhyiddin to discuss the political change but received no response. He said his new government would also be a majority Muslim government, but pledged to be fair to all races and committed to reforms. – PA