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Malaysia’s former ruling bloc may back Anwar in PM race

Malaysia’s former ruling coalition indicated that it may support opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister, reversing a decision to stay neutral and potentially helping resolve a political stalemate.

November 24, 2022
24 November 2022

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 (Reuters) – Malaysia’s former
ruling coalition indicated that it may support opposition leader
Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister, reversing a decision to stay
neutral and potentially helping resolve a political stalemate.

The Barisan coalition will not support a government that is
led by ex-premier Muhyddin Yassin’s alliance, its biggest
component party said, though it did not make any reference to
Anwar.

Five days after an election, Malaysia still does not have a
government as the two contenders do not have enough support for
a majority, resulting in an unprecedented hung parliament.

The uncertainty over the election prolongs political
instability in the Southeast Asian country, which has had three
prime ministers in as many years, and risks delaying policy
decisions needed to foster economic recovery.

King Al-Sultan Abdullah Sultan will meet with other senior
royals on Thursday to help decide who will become prime
minister. Media said the meeting will begin at 10:30a.m. (0230
GMT) and last for three hours.

The constitutional monarch plays a largely ceremonial role
but can appoint a premier he believes will command a majority in
parliament.

The king had suggested that both the leaders work together
to form a “unity government”, but Muhyiddin declined the
proposal.

The incumbent Barisan Nasional, which came in a distant
third in the election in its worst electoral showing, has become
a crucial player as its support is needed for both Anwar and
Muhyiddin to get a majority.

Barisan had this week said it would not support either and
would be part of the opposition.

But late on Wednesday, its biggest component party – the
United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) – said Barisan would
support a “unity government” that is not led by Muhyiddin’s
alliance. The statement did not mention Anwar.

Anwar’s progressive coalition, known as Pakatan Harapan, won
the most seats in the Saturday election with 82, while
Muhyiddin’s conservative Malay Muslim alliance called Perikatan
Nasional won 73. They need 112 – a simple majority – to form a
government. Barisan has 30.

Muhyiddin’s bloc includes an the Islamist party PAS, whose
electoral gains have raised concern in a country with
significant ethnic Chinese and ethnic Indian minorities, most of
whom follow other faiths. Investors have also been spooked over
worries about the Islamist party’s possible impact on policies.

Short video platform TikTok said on Wednesday it was on high
alert for content that violates its guidelines in Malaysia after
authorities warned of a rise in ethnic tension on social media
following the election.

(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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