KUALA LUMPUR: The recent defections of three Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) MPs have not given the Perikatan Nasional (PN) a majority in the parliament, said opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, insisting that he still commands the support of an "adequate number" of MPs.
“It is simple mathematics. PN claims it has 111 or 112 (MPs). If we take into account that a portion of that has declared support for me, they are left with technically 100," Mr Anwar claimed in a press conference on Tuesday (Mar 16).
There are 222 seats in Malaysia's House of Representatives. Two MPs passed away recently and by-elections have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The three MPs who recently quit PKR and pledged support for the PN government led by Mr Muhyiddin Yassin are Julau MP Larry Sng, Tebrau MP Steven Choong and Kuala Langat MP Xavier Jayakumar.
Mr Anwar, who is PKR president, said the PN ruling coalition has "less than 90 MPs", after excluding MPs from Parti Warisan Sabah, Parti Pejuang Tanah Air and Malaysian United Democratic Alliance.
“What makes you think that taking three will make them reach 110? They have lost the core base of the MPs who have been with PN,” he said.
Mr Anwar had claimed in September last year claimed that he had a "strong, formidable, convincing majority" to form the next government, while United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had then said the party would not stop its MPs from backing Mr Anwar as prime minister.
Malaysia is currently under a state of emergency, with parliament meetings suspended.
Asked in his Tuesday press conference if he still has the majority he claimed to hold, he replied: "I have the adequate numbers."
Mr Anwar, who is Port Dickson MP, also claimed that a few other PKR MPs have been intimidated or lured with monetary remunerations to quit the party and join the ruling coalition.
He said PN as the ruling government should cease its methods of intimidation to lure members from the opposition and stressed that no one else from PKR would “jump over” to the ruling party.
“I will be writing to the chief commissioner of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) on this tomorrow to seek an appointment to discuss this matter.
“The MACC should be used as an effective agency to combat corruption and not to be used as a political weapon against opposition politicians,” he said.
NO FORMAL AGREEMENT WITH UMNO
On whether PKR is going to work with UMNO, Mr Anwar said nothing has been formalised yet.
“It is too premature to say anything. It is just initial discussions. Nothing is formal yet.
“It is just a positive start. A new narrative. Evil politics needs to stop and I am open to discuss this with anyone,” he said.
This came after Mr Anwar said in an interview with a Malaysian newspaper that there have been initial discussions between PKR and UMNO, fuelling talks of possible collaboration between the two political rivals.
Asked if he had met with Ahmad Zahid, Mr Anwar said he had met with “everyone”.
“It is also a bit premature to indicate collaboration in the next election. We cannot preempt before a major understanding,” he added.