Is Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim close to fulfilling his long-cherished ambition to become the prime minister? The leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), or People's Justice Party, has said the government of Muhyiddin Yassin has fallen and that he now has the support of majority of MPs.
Anwar, who narrowly lost the prime ministership at least twice in his chequered political career, said on Wednesday that he has "strong, formidable, convincing majority" of the MPs. "Not four, five or six ... I'm talking about much more than that," he said, adding that he has close to two-thirds parliamentary majority.
However, despite Anwar's claims, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is scheduled to meet the press later on Wednesday. One of the cabinet ministers tweeted a photo of the council of ministers in session after Anwar made the claim.
'Muhyiddin can Join Government'
Anwar added on Wednesday that Muhyiddin can join his government if he wishes so. Muhyiddin, who was a cabinet minister along with Anwar in the government headed by Mahathir Mohamad, later broke ranks and formed the Perikatan Nasional coalition government, along with former political enemies Umno and PAS.
The government formation by Muhyiddin was a coup that destroyed Anwar's long-held plans to take over from Mahathir, his former patron. It was his historic fallout with Mahathir more than a decade ago that caused his downfall. Anwar was the second in command in the Mahathir government in the early 2000s but was later sidelined and sent to prison on charges of sodomy.
Anwar continued to be the victim of a legal witchhunt throught the tenure of Najib Razak, who replaced Mahathir as the prime minister and the Unmo leader. As the Najib government was mired in corruption and controversies, Mahathir came back from retirement to lead a popular charge against the government.
Anwar joined forces with former patron-turned-foe Mahathir to execute the ouster of Najib. When the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition of Mahathir and Anwar came to power following an electoral rout for Najib's Barisan Nasional (BN) in the 2018 general election, the tacit understanding was that Anwar would take over from Mahathir in due course of time.
However, that smooth transfer of power from Mahathir to Anwar didn't take place as planned owing to internecine conflicts and a resurfacing of mutual suspicions and old animosities. Mahathir's continued refusal to set a timeline for transferring power to Anwar led to the worsening of tensions within the fragile coalition.
Waiting to Meet the King, Anwar Says
The nonagenarian patriarch then suddenly resigned in February 2020, leaving the coalition in disarray. Defectors led by Muhyiddin then joined forces with Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional (PN) to form the government.
If Anwar's claims of stitching together a parliamentary majority are true, the Muhyiddin government may be tottering on the edges now. According to regional media, Anwar has not revealed which parties are supporting him or how many MPs are with him.
He has said he would reveal the number once he meets the Malaysian King. "I was supposed to have an audience with the king on Tuesday 11am but it was postponed because His Majesty was hospitalised," Anwar said, according to the Channel News Asia. He added that he had a telephonic conversation with King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, who is admitted to the National Heart Institute.