Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday that he was not discounting the possibility that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) pact could return to power in May, countering the view of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad that lawmakers who had supported his side had defected in return for "sweets".
Datuk Seri Anwar, president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), one of the three member parties of PH, also refused to respond to jibes made against him by Tun Dr Mahathir, who blamed Mr Anwar's "impatience" to become prime minister for PH's collapse three weeks ago.
A scheduled Parliament sitting this week was cancelled by new Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, with the next session to take place only on May 18.
PH is hoping to muster support from the minimum 112 MPs in the 222-strong Parliament to oust the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin, amid talk that PH does not have the minimum number of lawmakers.
"We will see what should be done in the next few weeks. We are not discounting any possibility," Mr Anwar, 72, told a press conference.
When asked if all hope is lost in a no-confidence vote in Parliament's May sitting, he said the pact is "discussing and looking at avenues".
Mr Anwar indicated that Dr Mahathir is no longer part of the PH coalition, but some of the PH leaders met the 94-year-old yesterday.
"Dr Mahathir is not a member of PH. But we are open to discussion; in fact he had invited some of us to see him today," he said.
Dr Mahathir, in an interview with Malay daily Sinar Harian published on Wednesday, said the Muhyiddin government could last until the next general election due in 2023.
The PH government collapsed on Feb 24 when Dr Mahathir unexpectedly quit the premiership, saying later that he had lost support from the majority of leaders in the party that he chaired, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
"Now that he (Muhyiddin) has become the prime minister, he can give a lot of sweets to many people. I found that some of my supporters are now appointed ministers, so they moved there," he said.
The president of Bersatu, Mr Muhyiddin, had by then cobbled together a new alliance comprising most of Bersatu's MPs, renegade lawmakers from PKR, and others from opposition factions Barisan Nasional (BN), Parti Islam SeMalaysia and Gabungan Parti Sarawak.
Mr Muhyiddin, 72, was sworn in as prime minister on March 1 by the Malaysian King.
The three PH members - PKR, Democratic Action Party and Parti Amanah Negara - have 92 lawmakers on their side.
Just before Mr Muhyiddin was sworn in as prime minister on March 1, PH leaders had declared that they had the minimum 112 MPs.
In an interview by Nikkei Asian Review published on Thursday, Dr Mahathir said Mr Anwar's lust for power had cost them both the country's top job.
Dr Mahathir said: "He was campaigning, through his boys, to ask me to step down. I felt that I will step down when I think that it is safe to step down."
When asked to comment on those remarks, Mr Anwar said: "My patience is legendary. I don't think I can easily be provoked. Tun Mahathir has said many things for many decades. I don't think this affects my position or the party's position in setting our priorities."