AS Malaysians wait for clarity, FocusM brings you updates on the unfolding situation following Sunday’s events:
11.32pm: Efforts by some to shore up support for Mahathir Mohamad prove that they are in the wrong, said a group of former PKR leaders led by Azmin Ali.
In a joint statement tonight, they said that their actions were meant to prevent a conspiracy aimed at making Mahathir a “lame duck” by forcing a mid-term transition of power.
They said this would have hurt the confidence of the public and investors in the country’s stability and the continuity of government policies aimed at helping the people.
“As such, we strongly deny accusations by those who labelled us as traitors,” Malaysiakini quoted the statement as saying. “Instead those who strived to unseat a prime minister in the middle of his term are the true traitors because they prioritised their agenda of taking over the premiership over the implementation of policies aimed at healing the economy and uplifting the people’s welfare.
“Our efforts were proven to be right, and that side has realised the mistakes they’ve done. Hence their statement supporting Mahathir to continue being prime minister to the end of this term.”
This last remark refers to pledges of support from Amanah and DAP for Mahathir to continue as prime minister. However, their pledge did not mention that it would be until the nonagenarian had served a full term.
The statement was signed by Azmin, Zuraida Kamaruddin, Saifuddin Abdullah, Baru Bian, Kamaruddin Jaafar, Mansor Othman, Rashid Hasnon, Edmund Santhara, Ali Biju, Willie Mongin, and Jonathan Yasin.
11.11pm: Earlier today, Barisan Nasional MPs held a closed-door meeting after lunch which ended around 8pm. MIC deputy president Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said MIC would stand by BN. He said BN was confident of forming a new government and may seek an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the formation of a new coalition.
MCA president Wee Ka Siong said it was up to the King to form a new government. “If it is meant for us to have a general election, we will face it,” added Wee.
10.59pm: PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang is surrounded by a security detail as he leaves Riverside Cafe, PWTC. “Let us wait and see what is the next development,” Hadi says briefly when approached by the media.
PAS Youth Chief Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Aziz is also seen leaving the venue. He is similarly coy about the reason for tonight’s dinner meeting with Umno leaders.
Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak is next to emerge. He smiles when faced by a barrage of questions from the press. “I’m not giving any statement today,” Najib says with a wide grin.
MIC deputy president M Saravanan also makes his way out of the venue. “We leave it to the BN president (to announce). We are just getting ready for tomorrow,” Saravanan says when asked why he came tonight.
10.35pm: Attorney-General Tommy Thomas is quoted as saying that there is no time limit attached to the office of the interim prime minister, who may decide whether to appoint cabinet members at his discretion.
“An interim PM has all the powers attached to the office of prime minister. That includes appointing or not appointing cabinet members as he wishes.
“Because Dewan Rakyat sits from March 10, a confidence motion can be moved for him or anyone else. There is no time limit to the office of an interim prime minister. Hence to state there is a 10-day or any other definite period is wrong,” Malaysiakini cited Thomas as saying.
10.05pm: Azmin Ali’s political secretary Hilman Idham was spotted entering the Bersatu headquarters building. The PKR Gombak Setia assemblyperson, when pressed on what he was doing there when Bersatu’s supreme council was having a meeting, he only said he was there for “a meeting”.
Those seen entering the building so far are Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Redzuan Yusof, Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, Rina Harun, Marzuki Yahya, Maszlee Malik, Rais Yatim, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, Rafiq Naizamohideen and Mahathir’s son and Kedah menteri besar Dastuk Seri Mukhriz.
Meanwhile, Umno and PAS top leaders are meeting over dinner at Riverside Cafe, PWTC. Among those from Umno spotted are party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, vice-president Ismail Sabri, former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, former minister Mahdzir Khalid, Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman and Baling MP Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man and secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan are also seen. Tajuddin declines to answer when asked if there is a meeting between the two parties.
The media are not allowed inside the restaurant and the shutters have been pulled down. Bodyguards and security personnel are seen guarding the entrance.
Former education minister Maszlee denied he is quitting Bersatu. Questioned as he was walking into the Bersatu headquarters for an emergency meeting about speculation that he, along with several other Bersatu leaders, would be leaving the party after Mahathir quit as chairman, he responded, “I am entering the Bersatu office now, why would I be quitting? When did I quit?”
Elsewhere, it is reported that leaders of the remaining Pakatan Harapan parties – PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu – are meeting at an undisclosed location. A Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting scheduled for this afternoon had been postponed until tomorrow, with the time and venue yet to be announced.
It is also understood that supporters of the ousted PKR deputy president Azmin Ali are meeting at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
7.23pm: The King has accepted Mahathir’s resignation but has appointed him interim PM until a new one is appointed, according to Article 43 (2)(a) of the Federal Constitution, Chief Secretary Mohd Zuki Ali says in a statement.
6.18pm: Mahathir leaves Istana Negara through Gate 1. He met with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah for more than an hour.
5.50pm: Anwar leaves the PKR headquarters and heads to an undisclosed location for a PH meeting.
5.40pm: Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas says no statement would be issued on the current political situation, Malaysiakini reports.
5.20pm: Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) is closely monitoring conditions in the financial markets in light of recent developments that are currently unfolding.
“While ringgit movements will continue to be market determined, BNM’s market operations will ensure sufficient liquidity and orderly financial market conditions,” it said in a statement.
5.17pm: Indera Mahkota MP Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah is no longer PH secretary-general after being sacked by PKR. He was also foreign affairs minister.
5.09pm: FBM KLCI closes down 41.14 points at 1,490.06.
5pm: Former Bersih chairperson Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan wants Mahathir to return as prime minister, Malaysiakini reports.
“As things stand Mahathir enjoys the confidence of the majority of the House.
“Amanah and DAP have also expressed their support for Tun (Mahathir) and I would urge Tun to retake the reins of power as entrusted by the people and steer Harapan into calmer waters,” Ambiga is quoted as saying.
4.50pm: Mahathir enters the palace through Gate 1. He will be seeking an audience with the King shortly.
4.41pm: Mahathir leaves his residence for an audience with the King. A caretaker government is in the offing but the Attorney-General’s Chambers is waiting for clarification.
4.33pm: DAP wants Mahathir to return as prime minister, says party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng. Lim said the party will propose Mahathir as prime minister at an emergency PH presidential council meeting tonight.
3.57pm: Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub apologises to farmers and fishermen, saying he has done his best in fighting for them while in office.
“I have spent my entire time at the ministry fighting for farmers and fisherman. If I failed, I again apologise to all of you,” he says in a statement today. Salahuddin adds that he will continue to champion their cause even if he is no longer in government.
3.50pm: PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has come out in support of Mahathir, saying the latter had been played out since last night.
“No I think it is not him…his name was used by those within my party and outside. And he reiterated what he had said to me earlier, that he played no part in it. It is very clear that he will, in no way, ever work with those associated with the past regime,” he told reporters after returning to the party’s headquarters from meeting with the Agong at Istana Negara.
3.49pm: Bersatu supreme council will hold an emergency meeting at 8.30pm at their headquarters in Petaling Jaya.
3.46pm: With Mahathir’s resignation, it is now up to the King to choose the new prime minister based on the support of MPs. If Mahathir has the majority support, he can be appointed PM, legal sources said. If there is no one with majority support, then a general election may be called.
Meantime, prominent lawyer Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram told FMT there is no provision for a deputy prime minister in the constitution.
3.42pm: Istana Negara will not be issuing a statement on the current political manoeuvrings, a spokesman tells FocusM.
3.35pm: Anwar and Wan Azizah have left Istana Negara through Gate 2.
3.24pm: PH component party Amanah has backed Mahathir’s leadership as prime minister and wants him to continue leading the coalition and country.
“We stand behind Pakatan Harapan and Mahathir for a better Malaysia,” Amanah president Mohamad Sabu says in a statement.
3.06pm: Mahathir quits as Bersatu chairman effective today. He is expected to meet the King at Istana Negara at 5pm, PMO confirms.
2.42pm: “Everything is up in the air now but we know that with Dr Mahathir’s resignation and Bersatu out of PH, plus 11 MPs out of the party, Anwar must find additional MPs to cover this shortfall if he wants to stay in power,” Prof James Chin of the University of Tasmania tells FocusM.
2.41pm: PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has been spotted to enter the Istana Negara via Gate 2.
2.37pm: The benchmark FBM KLCI is at 1,491.70 points, down 39.48 points or 2.58%.
2.36pm: Mahathir’s resignation is to pave the way for his return as prime minister of the new government, observers say.
2.29pm: 11 MPs have quit PKR and are forming an independent bloc in Parliament. They are: Azmin, Zuraida, Saifuddin Abdullah, Baru Bian, Kamaruddin Jaafar, Mansor Othman, Rashid Hasnon, Santhara Kumar, Ali Biju, Willie Mongin and Jonathan Yasin.
2.22pm: The Prime Minister’s Office has confirmed that PM Mahathir has submitted his resignation letter to the King at 1pm.
2.18pm: Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin has announced that his party has quit PH.
“All MPs from Bersatu will also leave Pakatan Harapan.
“All of them have signed a statutory declaration to continue supporting and putting their trust in Mahathir Mohamad as the prime minister,” Muhyiddin said in a Facebook statement today.
2.18pm: PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution confirms Azmin and Zuraida have been sacked from the party with immediate effect.
2.01pm: Azmin and Zuraida Kamaruddin will be sacked from PKR, sources tell Malaysiakini. Zuraida is Ampang MP and Housing and Local Government Minister.
1.49pm: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has just sent his resignation letter to the King, after a day of political turmoil in the country.
A press statement is to be issued soon, says The Malaysian Insight.
1:49pm: Mahathir assures of not giving in to those attempting to take power without setting “an agenda of change,” Anwar told reporters before meeting with other PKR members. But dodges question on whether this was good news for PH. “I’ll speak to the media later,” he was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today.
1.40pm: Anwar claims to have a “very good meeting” with Mahathir. He said this to the media at the PKR headquarters. “We have discussed several things and I am satisfied with his stand that we must put our principles first, and the reform agenda should be continued. That is what I can say for now,” Anwar was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini.
1.39pm: The Election Commission (EC) is on full alert to fulfil its obligations should a snap election be called, chairperson Azhar Azizan Harun tells Malaysiakini.
1pm: Leaders from both sides of the political divide on Feb 23 held separate meetings in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, giving rise to speculations that these events were related to a potential realignment of the country’s political landscape.
This came on the back of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council meeting held two days earlier.
The parties involved include Bersatu, PKR, Umno, PAS, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Warisan.
After separate meetings, the leaders of these parties were summoned to the palace for a session with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The leaders are: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (Bersatu), Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (Umno president), Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (PKR deputy president), Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg (GPS president), Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal (Warisan president), and Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (PAS president).
They then convened at the Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya for dinner together with other MPs from each respective party for a so-called Majlis Makan Malam Muafakat Ahli Parlimen.
Not much is known about what exactly transpired that night but Malaysiakini reported Azmin as saying: “Thank you for waiting for so long. God willing, we will continue this struggle for the reform agenda, to develop the country and bring prosperity to all Malaysians.”
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also organised an event at his residence in Bukit Segambut with leaders aligned to him. He would soon describe the manoeuvrings by the other leaders as a “betrayal.”
He conceded yesterday that an effort to form a new government was in the making and it would materialise as soon as today. Anwar then rallied leaders from DAP and Amanah, two PH component parties which didn’t attend the palace or dinner meets, to discuss the possibilities of an ouster.
Anwar as well as Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail are expected to meet the Agong today at 2.30pm at Istana Negara.
Earlier today, Anwar, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu met Mahathir at his residence in Country Heights, Seri Kembangan, for almost an hour. The discussions ended at 12.18pm, reports Astro Awani.
— Harits Asyraf Hasnan (@AsyrafAWANI) February 24, 2020
At the time of writing, there are no official announcements or media conferences from the Prime Minister’s Office over yesterday’s political developments. – Feb 24, 2020