KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim needs to prove that he has enough support from Members of Parliament (MPs) to form a new government, while stating that he remains the "legal prime minister" of the country.
Mr Muhyiddin released a press statement on Wednesday (Sep 23), hours after Mr Anwar announced that he has garnered a "strong, formidable, convincing majority" of MPs to form a new government. The latter also claimed that the current government led by Mr Muhyiddin has fallen.
Mr Anwar did not reveal the list of MPs who are with him and said that he would only do so after the royal audience.
In his statement, Mr Muhyiddin said: "This allegation now needs to be proven through process and methods determined by the Federal Constitution. Without these processes, Anwar’s statement is a mere allegation. Until proven otherwise, the Perikatan Nasional government still stands firm and I am the legal Prime Minister.
"I call for citizens to stay calm in this situation. God willing, this issue will be managed properly according to the legal process and Federal constitution," he added.
In a separate statement, the Istana Negara called for Malaysians to remain calm as the country is still battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The king would like to take this opportunity to urge all Malaysians to remain calm and look after their health while complying with health standard operating procedures as we are still facing the dangers of COVID-19," said the statement.
The statement also said that the king has urged all quarters to prioritise the wellbeing of the people over everything else, especially during the time of COVID-19.
The palace confirmed that the king was scheduled to meet Mr Anwar on Tuesday. It said the meeting was postponed as the king had fallen ill and was seeking treatment at the National Heart Institute.
In an earlier televised address on Wednesday, Mr Muhyiddin appealed to Malaysians to reject the "blind actions" of a small group of politicians who he said are undermining the political stability of the country.
He said what is crucial now is a stable and strong government backed by the people.
"This is important so that many initiatives to recover the economy and to assist the people can be implemented effectively by the government," he said during the address.
The prime minister said: “I therefore plead with the people to reject the blind actions of certain politicians who purposefully intend to affect the nation’s political stability as well as the economic recovery plans which are being implemented well at this time."
“God willing, we will be able to form a better future. I am confident of and have trust in the strength of our spirit as Malaysians ... I hope the Kita Prihatin package will bring great benefits to you."
ADDITIONAL RM10 BILLION FINANCIAL AID
Mr Muhyiddin announced that the government will be providing financial aid worth RM10 billion (US$2.4 billion) to further help Malaysians get through the pandemic.
The programme, he said, includes cash aid, assistance for small businesses and a wage subsidy scheme.
"No application will be necessary for the (cash aid). The government will channel the aid directly to the 10.6 million people who previously benefitted from the assistance," he said.
Mr Muhyiddin had earlier announced financial aid in three phases (Prihatin, Prihatin PKS Tambahan and Penjana) worth RM295 billion.
He added that at this time, it was important to prioritise the plight of the people instead of focusing on politics.
READ: More aid for Malaysian SMEs as Muhyiddin unveils additional RM10 billion package amid COVID-19
Previously, Mr Anwar had been tipped to take over from Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who became the country’s seventh prime minister after Pakatan Harapan (PH) defeated Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in the 2018 general election.
Mr Anwar, who was serving a jail term for sodomy, was granted a royal pardon days after PH’s shock victory.
The transition plan from Dr Mahathir to Mr Anwar had been a significant source of tension in PH as the former had repeatedly declined to give a concrete timetable as to when he would step aside for Mr Anwar to take the reins.
Dr Mahathir abruptly resigned in February and defectors from PH then worked with BN to form the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.
Mr Muhyiddin, president of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), became the prime minister, after the king met all MPs and found that Mr Muhyiddin likely commanded the support of majority of the lawmakers.
Dr Mahathir and his allies were subsequently removed from Bersatu.
PH politicians have cried foul over PN’s political coup to wrest federal power, although the COVID-19 pandemic and government-instituted movement control order to stem the contagion temporarily abated much of the political feud.
United Malays National Organisation, which has always held the prime minister position before BN’s fall and is now part of the PN government, has repeatedly called for a general election to be held to get rid of the “backdoor government” impression.
Mr Muhyiddin, when campaigning in the ongoing Sabah state election, said a general election can be called if the state coalition he put together wins the Sabah polls on Sep 26.
Mr Anwar is currently facing a lawsuit filed to challenge the legality of a royal pardon he received two years ago, with the dates for case management and trial fixed in 2021.