Malaysia king yet to decide on next prime minister, BN politicians summoned to palace on Wednesday
Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin said the ruler had suggested a unity government with Pakatan Harapan, but he declined the request.
KUALA LUMPUR: There has been no decision made by the king of Malaysia on who would be the next prime minister, after the ruler met the leaders of Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) on Tuesday (Nov 22).
Additionally, all 30 Barisan Nasional (BN) politicians who won the election have been summoned to the palace on Wednesday morning to meet with the ruler individually.
This came after the result of the 15th General Election (GE15) resulted in a hung parliament scenario, with neither PH nor PN being able to amass enough numbers to form the next government.
Both PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim and PN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin were summoned to the palace on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters after the royal audience, Mr Anwar said: “We have been summoned by the king. His Highness has expressed his desire to form a government inclusive of race, religion and region.
"This allows the government to focus on resolving the problems of the Rakyat (people) and to resuscitate our economy. And I, of course, expressed gratitude to His Highness, and said we will do our best, digest the advice and wait for the final decision, which is of course the discretion of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong."
When asked if he has been given time to build a majority in the Lower House, Mr Anwar replied: “We have submitted (the list of MPs). We can, of course, be open to improving the process ... given time, I think we would secure the simple majority as I had indicated earlier."
In a separate press conference, Mr Muhyiddin said that the king had asked for both PN and PH to work together to form a unity government.
Mr Muhyiddin, however, said that PN had turned down the suggestion.
“We have discussed this beforehand. We will not work with PH,” said Mr Muhyiddin.
PH won 81 seats while PN managed 73, putting both in a position to form the next government in the 222-seat Lower House. 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. Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) won 23 seats while Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) emerged victorious in six seats.
For Malaysians, Tuesday began with cautious optimism that there might be a resolution to the political impasse.
The palace had set a 2pm deadline for the coalitions to present their numbers to form the next government and propose their prime minister candidates.
On Monday, PN announced that it had submitted 112 statutory declarations signed by MPs who back Mr Muhyiddin. It added on Tuesday morning that it has submitted an additional statutory declaration to the palace.
Talks were held between PH and BN on Monday. Mr Anwar said that he was “very pleased” with the discussions.
However, there were signs of dissent within BN’s ranks, as several politicians questioned the need to form a pact with PH.
BN deputy president Mohamad Hasan, for instance, wrote on Facebook on Monday that BN accepts the decision of the people.
“So we don't have the power to establish a government. I suggest, let PN and PH merge (to form the) government because they have the largest number of votes,” he said on Monday.
On Tuesday morning, these divisions within BN were laid bare as its MPs gathered at the party headquarters after they were summoned by the coalition chiefs.
As he exited the meeting, Jelebu MP Jaliludin Alias told reporters that a statement will be released by the secretary-general of BN soon.
"We did not sign any statutory declarations (to support a PM candidate) at the meeting today," he told reporters.
Subsequently, caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob confirmed that BN will not be backing either PH or PN.
In a Facebook post, the vice president of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) said: “The BN supreme council has made a decision to not support any coalition to form a government.
“BN does not support Pakatan Harapan or Perikatan Nasional. As of now, BN agrees to remain in the opposition,” said Mr Ismail Sabri.
Without BN backing either PH or PN, both would struggle to cross the 112-seat threshold needed to form a government.
GPS said on Sunday that it was ready to enter a coalition with PN, BN and GRS However, BN denied that negotiations had taken place.
GPS then issued a statement on Tuesday saying that it leaves it to the discretion of the king to appoint a prime minister who will lead a strong government to govern the country.
The palace then issued a statement summoning both Mr Anwar and Mr Muhyiddin for a royal audience at 4.30pm.
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.
KING URGES CALM UNTIL NEXT PM IS PICKED
After the meeting with Mr Anwar and Mr Muhyiddin, a statement issued by Comptroller of the Royal Household of Istana Negara, Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said that the king has summoned the 30 BN politicians who won the election, to the palace on Wednesday.
"This individual face-to-face session is scheduled to take place at 10.30am tomorrow morning (Nov 23) at the National Palace," he said.
He added that the purpose of this was for the ruler to make the decision of appointing a member of the Lower House who is believed to command the support of the majority of MPs as provided under Article 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution.
"His Majesty advises all the people to be patient and calm until the process of forming a new government and the appointment of the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia is complete," he added.