Anwar says no decision made on M'sian prime minister as Agong calls BN in for talks

No decision made, hard decisions to come.

Tan Min-Wei | November 22, 2022, 08:33 PM

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[Editor's note, Nov. 22, 7:45pm: An earlier article announcing Anwar Ibrahim as the new interim prime minister of Malaysia has been removed. We apologise for the error and the confusion caused.

It has since been reported that the Malaysia’s King has asked that a cross-coalition unity government be formed, after meeting with Anwar and Muhyiddin Yassin at the Istana Negara late Tuesday afternoon. No party has received a simple majority to form the government.]

Anwar Ibrahim, leader of the Pakatan Harapan coalition in Malaysia's parliament, has told reporters on Nov. 22 that no decision has been made about the appointment of Malaysia's 10th prime minister.

Summoning the leadership

Both Anwar and the Muhyiddin Yassin, the leader of the competing Perikatan Nasional coalition were called to the Istana Negara for a 4:30pm meeting on Nov. 22.

This was after talks between PH and Barisan Nasional, having been held on Nov. 21, failed to achieve a coalition agreement.

Muhyiddin was seen leaving the Istana Negara at around 5.10pm, without speaking to the press.

Anwar remained in the palace, with expectation building outside. But just before 6pm, Anwar emerged to answer questions from the waiting press.

This video of the impromptu press conference from the New Straits Times showed him answering questions in Malay and English.

Anwar confirmed that no agreement on who should be prime minister had been made.

Anwar said the Agong was hoping that the parties could build a "strong government, that is more inclusive in terms of race, religion, or region", and would allow the government to focus on solving the problems of the people and resuscitate the economy.

Stressing that no decision had been made yet on who should be PM, he joked that "the position is open for application".

He did confirm that PH had submitted their application for government, but also acknowledged that it could be improved.

He also confirmed that he did not yet have the 112 seats needed to form government, saying that "given time, I think we would secure the simple majority, as I have indicated earlier", and that a minority government was not on the cards at the moment.

Meeting with BN

Just after Anwar's press conference, the Istana Negara released a statement via Bernama.

Manager of the Royal Palace Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said the Agong has called on the 30 Barisan Nasional MPs to meet with him at 10.30am on Nov. 23.

This will complete the process of speaking to the major blocs within the parliament, and no decision is likely to occur before then.

Seat count

PH has managed to achieve 82 seats in the Dewan Rakyat, Malaysia's parliament, becoming the largest bloc of seats.

PN is the next largest bloc with 73 seats. BN, which suffered a stinging rebuke, has 30 seats.

The main obstacle to a government appears to be bad blood between the two largest parties in parliament, now the Islamist Parti Islam se-Malaysia or PAS at 44 seats, and the Democratic Action Party or DAP at 40 seats. Once coalition partners in opposition, PAS is now vehemently opposed to the DAP.

Anwar himself is a divisive figure with BN candidates specifically singling him out as someone they could not support.

But the electoral math indicates that some kind of compromise will have to be made in order to achieve the stable government that the Agong is seeking.

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Top image by @AsriSapfie/Twitter