KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Saturday (Feb 29) said that he still commands the support of the majority of parliamentarians in Malaysia.
In a statement issued at night, Dr Mahathir said: “I would like to clarify that as the chairman of Bersatu (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia), me and five other Bersatu parliamentarians are not in support of Mr Muhyiddin (Yassin).
“This development therefore makes the numbers presented by Mr Muhyiddin to the king, inaccurate,” he said.
Attached to the statement was a list of 114 parliamentarians who are backing him to take over as Malaysia's next prime minister.
Dr Mahathir, backed by Pakatan Harapan (PH), said he had prepared a letter explaining his position and the support of the 114 parliamentarians. He added that he intends to give the letter to the king.
“I will soon present to the king all the official letters and statutory declarations issued by these parliamentarians in support of me,” said the statement.
“I hope the king would accept my letter and explanation.”
Earlier, Malaysian media said PH intended to appeal the Malaysian king's decision to choose Mr Muhyiddin as prime minister, and was in the process of gathering statutory declarations from the MPs.
Dr Mahathir's shock resignation on Monday plunged the country into political turmoil. The king accepted his resignation and appointed him the interim prime minister.
On Saturday morning, political leaders took turns to meet the monarch to present their preferred prime minister candidate, after he said he could not identify any parliamentarian who commands the majority following a two-day consultation with all MPs.
Mr Muhyiddin, who pulled Bersatu out of PH, had partnered with Barisan Nasional (BN), Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and others in a bid to form a new government.
PH initially said on Wednesday it would nominate Mr Anwar Ibrahim, after Dr Mahathir put forth a proposal to form a unity government that cuts across party lines.
In a twist of events, PH announced on Saturday morning that it would back Dr Mahathir to be the prime minister again.
The palace issued a statement in the afternoon saying that the king had found that Mr Muhyiddin likely commanded the support of the majority of MPs.
PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said Mr Muhyiddin had the support of 114 out of 222 MPs.
“That is no longer a minority government,” he was quoted as saying in the Malaysian Insight.
Describing Mr Muhyiddin’s appointment as the “best achievement” PAS has reaped from its cooperation with UMNO, Mr Takiyuddin said the two parties are now the biggest component in the new government.
PAS has 18 MPs while UMNO has 39.
In a Facebook video, Mr Muhyiddin said that he managed to get the numbers thanks to MPs from Bersatu, BN, PAS and Gabungan Parti Sarawak, as well as a few independent MPs.
“This is a big burden and responsibility that we have to shoulder,” he said.