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Malay rulers to hold special meeting on impasse over forming new government

The meeting will be held at the national palace on Thursday.

KUALA LUMPUR: The king of Malaysia will hold a special meeting with his fellow rulers on Thursday (Nov 24) to seek their views on the impasse over the formation of a new government.

According to a Wednesday statement issued by Comptroller of the Royal Household of Istana Negara Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin, the special meeting will be held at the national palace.
 
“The purpose of the special meeting with Malay rulers is for the king to get their views before making a decision for the interests and stability of the country and people.
 
“The people have already decided to choose their representatives. So, it is up to the people's representatives to find a solution to solve the problems that plague the people,” the statement added. 
 
The king also urged people to stay calm and be patient until the process to form a new government is completed.
 

A photo showing the outside of the Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur. (Photo: CNA/Fadza Ishak)

On Wednesday morning, several top Malaysian politicians arrived at the Istana Negara for a royal audience.

Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, his deputy Mohamad Hasan and the coalition’s secretary general Zambry Abdul Kadir were seen driving into the palace grounds at around 10.40am, slightly after their 10.30am appointment.

Just after 11am, a convoy of vehicles, believed to be carrying Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) representatives, also entered the palace.

Both coalitions are now kingmakers, as neither Pakatan Harapan (PH) nor Perikatan Nasional (PN) won enough seats for a simple parliamentary majority. 

The BN politicians left after 11.30am while the group from GPS left just before 12pm.

From left: Pakatan Harapan leader Anwar Ibrahim, Perikatan Nasional's Muhyiddin Yassin, Malaysia caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Gabungan Parti Sarawak chairman Abang Johari Abang Openg. (Photos: CNA/Gaya Chandramohan, Fatihah Kamaruddin, Try Sutrisno Foo, Facebook/Rushdan Manan via Bernama)

To Malaysian political observers, Wednesday morning was reminiscent of the political crisis in early 2020 when the PH government collapsed, as the ruler summoned the politicians to determine who commanded the majority of support in the Lower House.

In the context of Malaysia, the king plays a largely ceremonial role and is supposed to be above politics. But political instability since the 2018 polls has meant that the monarch was needed to determine the holder of the country’s highest political office in 2020 and again last year.

After the 15th General Election (GE15) last Saturday produced no coalition that could command a simple majority in the 222-seat Lower House, PH and PN scrambled to gather support from GPS, BN and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).

PH won 81 seats while PN managed 73, putting both in a position to form the next government. A coalition needs to be backed by at least 112 lawmakers to form the next government.

BN, which finished a distant third, managed to win 30 seats. GPS won 23 seats while GRS emerged victorious in six seats.

GPS initially indicated that it was ready to enter into a coalition with BN, GRS and PN. However, the Sarawak bloc later said that it would leave it to the discretion of the king to appoint a prime minister.

BN, after talks with PH and prolonged internal deliberations, announced on Tuesday that it would back neither PH nor PN, opting instead to stay as the opposition.

After the king summoned both Mr. Anwar and Mr Muhyiddin on Tuesday afternoon in a bid to resolve the impasse, the PH leader told reporters that the ruler has yet to make his decision.

In a separate press conference, Mr Muhyiddin said that the king has asked PH and PN to form a unity government. But PN turned down the suggestion.
 
Following the royal audience on Wednesday, BN’s Ahmad Zahid was quoted as saying by local media that the king had advised BN to be part of a unity government.

“Tuanku’s decree was to form a unity government,” he reportedly said.

The New Straits Times, quoting sources, reported on Wednesday that PH and BN may have come to an agreement on a governing formula. 

The formula is for a unity government that would last for five years, with the door being kept open for Sabah and Sarawak parties to join in. Under the purported 10-point agreement, the prime minister would be from PH while the deputy prime minister position would be held by BN politicians. 

Local media also reported that some BN and PN heavyweights were holding talks at the St Regis hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Citing part sources, local media reported that the meeting was to hear Mr Muhyiddin’s case for a unity government.

On Wednesday night, the United Malays National Organisation’s (UMNO) supreme council met to deliberate on BN’s options. UMNO is the lynchpin party in the coalition.

The Star reported that UMNO's supreme council's decision will have to be endorsed by the BN supreme council before it can be relayed to the palace.

Meanwhile, police have heightened security control with a roadblock at Gate 2 of the national palace.
 
This is to ensure that the palace's official affairs, including the summoning of political party leaders and high-ranking government officials, run smoothly without any disruption, said the Kuala Lumpur police chief.

Source: CNA/aw
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