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Mahathir Mohamad set to replace coalition allies with ex-foes

Majority of lawmakers said to back move to include Umno and PAS; King yet to give nod.


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Updated: February 24, 2020

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad looks set to replace Malaysia’s ruling pact with a wider coalition that includes opposition parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), but could leave out his Pakatan Harapan (PH) allies that were voted into government at the last general election in 2018, political sources say.

It is understood Tun Dr Mahathir has corralled the support of a majority of lawmakers in Parliament after a flurry of party meetings yesterday, but has yet to receive the nod from Malaysia’s King, Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin, to engineer his new so-called backdoor government.

The move, if successful, will thwart the succession plans of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim, who is meant to take over from Dr Mahathir as prime minister under an agreement between the PH parties.

Speculation of the imminent collapse of the PH government peaked yesterday when local media reported that leaders from Dr Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and the country’s two largest Malay-Muslim parties, Umno and PAS, were granted an audience with the King to brief him on this latest political development.

PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and PAS president Hadi Awang were among those who met the King, reported The Star daily.

But an aide to Datuk Seri Anwar has said he will have an audience with the King today. It is believed this meeting will take place before the ruler decides whether Dr Mahathir should continue to lead the government, or a snap general election should be called.

At a religious event at his residence last night, Mr Anwar said he had been betrayed. “There are attempts to topple PH and set up a new government involving former friends in PPBM and a handful of traitors in PKR. They met with the Agong just now. There is no announcement yet,” he said, referring to the King.

It is understood that the new coalition, if it goes ahead, will be called Perikatan Nasional, or the National Alliance.



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