MALAYSIA’s political turmoil roiled for a third day on Feb 25, but there was some semblance of it abating as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s appointment as interim prime minister resulted in his office having a revolving door.
Leaders of all political hues were ushered in as groups or individuals, with all them pledging allegiance in return for participation in the next government even as they jostled among themselves to strike alliances.
What’s known so far is that only two parties came away empty-handed – Umno and Pas – and they claimed that it was because they objected to partnering DAP in running the country.
The Yang diPertuan Agong decided to summon all MPs for personal audiences for their views on who the next PM should be or whether a fresh general election is the appropriate avenue. After being rebuffed by Mahathir, Umno and Pas of course want fresh polls.
Meanwhile, Pakatan Harapan, minus Mahathir’s erstwhile Bersatu, has asserted that it has the parliamentary numbers to keep hold of the federal government.
At state level, however, the situation is rather fragile in several states, including Kedah, Melaka and Johor, where shifting political alignments could result in governments being changed.
Meanwhile, it was reported that Mahathir wants to form a “unity” government regardless of political affiliation (a hark back to Tun Razak’s formation of Barisan Nasional in the 1970s which brought together just about every party in the country under a common banner and everyone having a share of the pie).
(To catch up, read Malaysian politics in swirling, murky waters as Mahathir quits then named interim PM.)
As Malaysia still waits for clarity, FocusM brings you live updates on the unfolding situation on Day 3:
10.23pm: Sarawak Pakatan Harapan will meet soon to decide its next course of action in light of recent political developments, said its chairman Chong Chieng Jen.
This was necessitated by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s exit from Pakatan as well as an expected change in Sarawak PKR’s leadership after Baru Bian, Ali Biju and Willie Mongin quit the party, The Star quoted him as saying.
Baru, who was state PKR chairman, Ali and Willie were among 11 PKR MPs aligned to Datuk Seri Azmin Ali who left PKR on Feb 24 to form an independent bloc.
Chong insisted in a statement that the departure of a few leaders from Pakatan component parties would not sway the state coalition from its course, saying, “I believe that having gone through this turmoil in recent days, Sarawak Pakatan will be more united and resolute to face the coming state elections.
“I assure the people of Sarawak that come what may, Sarawak Pakatan will stay true to its original political struggle to bring reforms to Sarawak and Malaysia,” he added.
Chong also said all Sarawak DAP elected representatives remained steadfast with the party “through thick and thin.”
“The Sarawak DAP members, as well as Amanah members and those remaining in PKR, have shown great strength and undivided support for the leadership in these difficult and uncertain times,” he added.
10.15pm: Johor Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) has dismissed state Barisan Nasional chief Datuk Hasni Mohammad’s claim, made earlier this evening, that two of its assemblymen will be crossing over, with its chief, Aminolhuda Hassan, who is also Parit Ya’ani assemblyman, asserting that all nine of its assemblymen were still loyal to Pakatan Harapan.
He called Hasni’s allegation “a provocation and an attempt to disunite Pakatan,” he said in a statement carried by The Star.
Johor Amanah is expected to hold a press conference to address the issue on Feb 26 morning.
Earlier, Hasni, who is also the state Umno chief, said the Pakatan-led statement government had already collapsed and they were in the midst of forming a new minority state government with at least five crossovers from PKR and Amanah.
“The new government will comprise 14 Umno assemblymen, 11 from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), two from MIC, one from PAS.
“So far, we have Statutory Declarations (SDs) from the 17 assemblymen from Barisan and PAS, and we are waiting for the SDs from Bersatu and five other assemblymen, ” he added.
Hasni was speaking to reporters at the Johor Umno headquarters here Tuesday.
9.19pm: After a Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting at the PKR HQ this evening, Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub said the coalition has achieved consensus on its stand when its representatives have an audience with the Agong tomorrow.
“We made a decision, we will announce it tomorrow.” But he declined to reveal their candidate for prime minister.
The presidential council also discussed the demand for a fresh general election by Umno and Pas, he said, according to Malaysiakini.
PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, former deputy prime minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, DAP’s Lim Guan Eng and Lim Kit Siang, DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke and PKR vice-president Xavier Jeyakumar declined to talk to the media.
9.15pm: About 50 people have gathered at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur to demonstrate against the recent political turmoil. They carried placards saying “This is not what we voted for” and “Reforms please, not soap opera,” among others, says Malaysiakini.
A few of the participants are being given the chance to speak to the crowd. “This is not what we voted for. What did we vote for? We voted for change. But what did we get? The same old,” said one of the participants in her speech.
9.09pm: Despite the exit of 37 MPs from Pakatan, Amanah says the coalition still has a sufficient number of MPs to form the government.
“Sufficient,” Amanah communications director Khalid Abdul Samad was quoted as saying by The Star when quizzed by reporters if Pakatan has the support of a simple majority of 112 MPs.
8.58pm: The Star reported Johor Barisan Nasional as saying that, along with PAS, it will be forming a new state government with five crossovers from the now-defunct Pakatan Harapan. Its chief Datuk Hasni Mohammad said the five crossovers were from PKR and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah).
They expect to see the Johor Sultan as soon as Feb 28, Hasni told reporters after meeting with 17 assemblymen – 14 from Umno, two from MIC and one from PAS – at the Johor Umno headquarters on Feb 25.
“I received the 17 Statutory Declarations (SDs) today and I am waiting for Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) to hand over their 11 SDs.
“We will also be waiting for the five SDs from five assemblymen (from PKR) before meeting the Ruler with the final number, ” he said.
On the Mentri Besar nominee, he said the party with the largest majority will lead.
Johor has 56 state assemblymen. Presently Umno has 14 assemblymen, Bersatu 11, MIC 2, PAS 1, DAP 14, PKR 5 and Amanah 9.
8.18pm: Baru Bian defends Azmin and his colleagues. He said in a statement: “Firstly, I would like to convey my congratulations to Tun Mahathir on his appointment as interim Prime Minister and I reaffirm my 100% support for him.
“Those who have been observing us would know that our team’s stand has been very consistent during the past 21 months and shall remain so, that YAB Tun continues as PM until GE15.
“I am happy to note that those who had been calling for YAB Tun’s resignation have done a U-turn and are now in tune with our call. This vindication proves our stand has been correct all along.
“I call on all supporters to give us a bit of time, and to remain patient and calm as we pray together and work for a peaceful solution to this political impasse.
“I understand Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong XVI Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has advised the same, for the rakyat to be patient as a resolution is being formulated.
“I reiterate that we have the fullest confidence in YAB Tun to lead us to realising his Shared Prosperity vision as he brings the nation together in reconciliation and healing.
“I am still committed to ensuring that our beloved Sarawak will continue to realise its rights and no longer be denied the development and prosperity it deserves.”
8.17pm: All 18 GPS lawmakers have affirmed their support for Mahathir as prime minister to the King, says coalition whip Fadhilah per Malaysiakini.
7pm: BN and PAS now want snap polls, claiming that Mahathir wanted to form a unity government based on individuals, not along party lines.
Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa told a press conference at PWTC that Mahathir’s plan went against the conditional support that DAP would be left out of the new government.
“As such the support we gave to Mahathir to form a coalition without DAP, we are forced to take it back,” Annuar said.
BN and PAS MPs have informed the King that they want parliament to be dissolved and for fresh elections to be held.
6.24pm: Mahathir is proposing to lead a unity government, sources tell newswire Reuters.
According to Reuters, Mahathir proposed the idea of a grand coalition to leaders of the major political parties he met this morning, including those from his recently collapsed coalition and the parties they defeated in the 2018 election.
“In the absence of another candidate, it appears that Mahathir is poised to form the government,” one of four sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.
“There won’t be any political entity. We might be a government of no parties,” the source said.
A second source said, “The plan now is for a non-partisan unity government.”
Mahathir’s office has made no immediate comment.
6.23pm: Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg did not finalise any agreements with any political party in the peninsula, says the CM’s Office.
It refutes claims that GPS, which Abang Johari leads, had struck a deal with PAS and Umno on forming the federal government.
“This is only speculation by PBS. The chief minister did not finalise any agreement with any quarters in the peninsula,” the CM’s Office says in a statement as per the Malay Mail.
PSB, a Sarawak-based opposition party, had accused of striking a deal with BN less than two years after withdrawing from the federal coalition.
5.52pm: PH leaders gather at the PKR headquarters. It is understood that the PH presidential council will be held here later.
Some of the leaders seen at the PKR HQ include: Amanah’s Khalid Samad, Salahuddin Ayub, Husam Musa, Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Hatta Ramli; and DAP’s M Kulasegaran, Lim Guan Eng and Lim Kit Siang.
The meeting is held to discuss tomorrow’s interview with the Agong.
5.38pm: Mahathir won’t be attending the PH presidential council later, PMO says.
5.25pm: Petra Jaya MP Fadillah tells the media that each MP had two to three minutes with the King.
“There was an item that we had to sign,” he says. On which leader he supported, Fadillah says he followed GPS’ official position – Mahathir.
5.14pm: The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) opposes and rejects any attempt to form a backdoor government.
The watchdog also “strongly opposes and rejects the inclusion of Umno into the government at all cost.”
“Although there are no laws being breached in forming such (a government), it must be remembered that the people voted in the Pakatan Harapan government on the basis of rejecting the previous corrupted regime.
“Therefore, any attempt by the previous regime and current opposition to form a government with corrupted crooks and by bypassing the voters is an act of treachery which must be opposed strongly and fiercely,” it adds.
C4 also urges Harapan MPs to place the interest of the people and nation above everything else.
“We plead for the wisdom of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to not allow the ambitions of traitorous politicians in destroying this country.
“We plead for the Agong to protect democracy and let the voters choose their new government in the event Harapan is unable to reconfigure a new executive government,” it adds.
5.04pm: According to a PMO press release, Mahathir met these political heads in his office today:
GPS chairman Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg, Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu.
He also met former PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.
Tomorrow, Mahathir is expected to meet Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
5.03pm: Ninety MPs are in the palace to seek an audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
The rest will meet him in another session tomorrow.
4.44pm: Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng says interim PM Mahathir has indicated that the economic stimulus package, which was in the works before Sunday’s coup, might proceed.
“Mahathir indicated that the economic stimulus package will go ahead on a date to be announced by him,” Lim, who met Mahathir earlier this morning to discuss the stimulus package, says in a brief statement.
4.26pm: Going by announcements made by the various political parties, it looks like Mahathir already has the numbers to form the government. So far PKR (39), DAP (42), Amanah (11), the Azmin Ali camp (11) and Bersatu (26) – the original coalition – give 129, a clear majority. They need 112 seats. With GPS (18), expressing support for the interim PM, the number goes up to 147, just short of two-thirds the 222 seats. If Sabah’s Warisan comes in with its nine seats, then it rises to a massive 156.
4.10 pm: Sarawak’s ruling coalition Gabungan Parti Sarawak has told the King that all its MPs fully support Dr Mahathir Mohamad. In a statement, the coalition said its chairman, Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg, has been given the mandate to back Mahathir “in the interest of the nation”.
3.55pm: The Malaysian Bar wants Parliament to determine which MP commands the majority of the august House.
“If indeed Pakatan Harapan has lost its majority, then efforts need to be made to ascertain who is now able to command the confidence of the majority in the Dewan Rakyat, to be appointed the prime minister.
“In this regard, we echo the advice of the Attorney-General Tommy Thomas – the government’s chief legal adviser – that the way forward is to have this matter determined by the Dewan Rakyat when it reconvenes on March 10.
“At that point, a vote of confidence or otherwise could be taken and debated against the interim prime minister,” Bar president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor says in a statement.
Abdul Fareed added that statutory declarations (SDs) could not be used to determine the support of MPs since the authenticity of such SDs could be disputed.
3.47pm: A group of Barisan Nasional and PAS MPs have entered Istana Negara for their interview with the King. They include Umno’s Sembrong MP Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Pekan MP Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Bagan Datoh MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and PAS’ Kota Bharu MP Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan.
MPs from Sabah and Sarawak have been also spotted in the palace grounds. They include Batang Sadong MP Datuk Nancy Shukri, Petra Jaya MP Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
2.43pm: Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee and Keningau MP Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan are to be interviewed by the King shortly.
2.35pm: Bersatu supreme council member Wan Saiful Wan Jan moots a unity government headed by Mahathir.
“If Mahathir gets 100 percent support from the Dewan Rakyat, he can appoint anyone from any party to be in the cabinet.
“In other words, the entire Dewan Rakyat supports him, then a unity government will be formed without there being an opposition. If this can happen, I think the government will be more stable,” he says in a statement. 1.58pm: “Just another day in the office,” Mahathir said in a tweet an hour ago.
Just another day in the office. pic.twitter.com/fU14woEsA0
— Dr Mahathir Mohamad (@chedetofficial) February 25, 2020
1.42pm: Azmin’s 11 have reiterated their support for Mahathir as prime minister. “This has been our stand,” they said in a statement today.
Azmin’s 11 consists of MPs formerly from PKR who left the party yesterday after a falling out with the top leadership.
They are: Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin, Indera Mahkota MP Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Selangau MP Baru Bian, Bandar Tun Razak MP Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar, Nibong Tebal MP Datuk Mansor Othman, Batu Pahat MP Datuk Rashid Hasnon, Segamat MP Datuk Seri Santhara Kumar, Saratok MP Ali Biju, Puncak Borneo MP Willie Mongin and Ranau MP Jonathan Yasin.
1.33pm: From 2.30pm, each MP will spend about two to three minutes with the Agong for a “personal interview”, witnessed by the chief secretary, says the comptroller of the royal family and household.
The remaining MPs will meet the Agong tomorrow. This is to help the King decide if an MP commands the majority.
12.48pm: All MPs will be called to the palace for a short interview with the Agong starting today, said Comptroller of the Royal Family and Household Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin.
12.42pm: PKR adviser Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has cleared her desk at the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office. Wan Azizah had help from her daughter, Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, according to Malaysiakini.
12.34pm: Chief Secretary Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Ali has called for a special meeting with secretaries-general of various ministries to plan and implement policies.
Mesyuarat Khas bersama Ketua-Ketua Setiausaha Kementerian bagi meneruskan khidmat seperti biasa untuk kelangsungan perancangan dan pelaksanaan dasar-dasar sedia ada untuk rakyat dan negara.#KetuaSetiausahaNegara#KepercayaanUntukBerkhidmat#TrustToServe#Bekerjasepertibiasa pic.twitter.com/NnyNMXQrN5
— Mohd Zuki Ali (@zukiAli_) February 25, 2020
12.30pm: So far, the personalities that have been summoned by the palace for an audience with the King are: Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, Chief Justice Tan Sri Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat and Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah of Umno.
12.22pm: Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik is seen entering Istana Negara. He is the former education minister.
12.19pm: Former PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali has entered the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). A few minutes earlier, Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi were also seen at PMO. – Feb 25, 2020