KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Tuesday (Oct 13) that he will "leave it to the best judgment of the king", after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim claimed he has a parliamentary majority to form a new government.
In his first group interview since being sworn in as prime minister in March this year, Mr Muhyiddin said his focus was on managing the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy.
"I don't want to comment on what Anwar did at the palace," he stated.
"As far as I’m concerned, I leave it to the best judgement of the Agong. The Agong I think is the most learned and qualified person. He has got his own way of doing things as per provided by the constitution."
He added: "Whatever decision he will make, he is always following what is provided by the constitution."
Mr Muhyiddin was speaking to the press via video conferencing as he is currently under a 14-day home quarantine, after a minister who attended a meeting he chaired tested positive for COVID-19.
He added that when Mr Anwar was meeting the king, he was engaged in a video conference with all the members of the National Security Council (MKN) about the COVID-19 issue.
READ: King to study relevant documents and consult party leaders, says Anwar after audience to demonstrate parliamentary majority
Mr Muhyiddin, who is the president of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), had pulled the party of the PH coalition in late February to form the Perikatan Nasional government with lawmakers from Barisan Nasional and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia.
This political tussle at the federal level, which was put on hold for six months while the country fought the pandemic, has returned to the forefront with Mr Anwar claiming on Sep 23 that he had the majority of support from Malaysian parliamentarians.
Earlier at 2pm on Tuesday, Mr Anwar had announced that he had been in audience with King Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah to present evidence of support for him as prime minister.
More leaders from other political parties are expected to meet with the king in the coming days, he said.
The palace, however, said Mr Anwar had merely mentioned the number of MPs said to be supporting him but did not present a name list.
In criticising Mr Anwar, Bersatu information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan said in a statement on Tuesday that the opposition leader has lied about commanding a majority.
He suggested to Mr Anwar to retire from politics if this is just a "desperate strategy" of his to threaten the stability of the government."It is obvious today that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin still has the support to continue leading the Perikatan Nasional government," he said.
CMCO IN SELANGOR, KL AND PUTRAJAYA NECESSARY
On COVID-19, Mr Muhyiddin defended the federal government's decision to impose a conditional movement control order (CMCO) in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, which was announced on Monday.
It is a necessary preemptive and proactive step to curtail the spread of the virus, he said.
Cases have been recorded across all districts in Selangor and there was an upward trend, he said.
"So I think it is a correct move made by MKN (yesterday), which I chair, to declare the whole state of Selangor under CMCO to make sure, on the basis of preemptive and proactive actions that MKN has done, we can curtail the COVID-19 pandemic in the state of Selangor," he said.
Mr Muhyiddin said despite reducing people’s movement through, for instance, closure of schools, economic activities would not be impacted.
“It’s not just industries, but all economic activities,” Mr Muhyiddin said, adding that most businesses could continue to operate.
“We understand there must be a proper strike of balance between life and livelihood,” the prime minister said.
Up until September, the pandemic appeared to be under control in Malaysia between June till August as the country reopened gradually under the recovery movement control order.
The highest number of new daily cases recorded was on Oct 6, with 691 cases. As of Tuesday, Malaysia had 5,345 active cases out of 16,880 recorded cases, and 163 deaths.
The sharp rise was due in part to the surge in travel to and from Sabah for the recently concluded state election at the end of last month.