Cracks appear between Umno, PAS over backing for Muhyiddin

PAS urges expression of support for ruling PN coalition after Umno's threat to pull out

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's administration, which has only a two-seat majority in the Lower House, would effectively collapse should Umno withdraw its support.
Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's administration, which has only a two-seat majority in the Lower House, would effectively collapse should Umno withdraw its support.PHOTO: REUTERS

Fractures showed between Malaysia's ruling coalition partners Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) yesterday, over differences in their stance on backing Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's administration.

With Tan Sri Muhyiddin facing fresh questions over his Parliament majority, Islamist party PAS has urged all the parties in his Perikatan Nasional (PN) pact to reiterate their support for the ruling coalition, which is looking increasingly vulnerable.

PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said yesterday that the parties should make a fresh representation to Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, reiterating their commitment to the government.

"PAS urges parties entrusted with forming His Majesty's government led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister to offer undivided support without any interference to enable proper and effective functioning of the government," Datuk Takiyuddin said in a statement.

However, Johor Umno deputy chief Nur Jazlan Mohamed said PAS should opt between backing PN and being with Muafakat Nasional - the alliance between Umno and PAS. His statement came less than 48 hours after Umno, the biggest party in PN, threatened to pull out of the coalition if a series of fresh, unspecified demands made by the party were not met.

Several Umno leaders further undermined Mr Muhyiddin's administration when a letter surfaced on Wednesday from the party's most senior MP, Tengku Razaleigh Tengku Hamzah, urging that a no-confidence motion against Mr Muhyiddin be allowed to be presented in Parliament.

Umno supreme council member Tajuddin Abdul Rahman also said Malaysians should "not be surprised" if the party decided to support opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in his bid to be premier.

The latest series of uncertainties in the Malaysian political landscape started on Tuesday, with Datuk Seri Anwar seeking an audience with Sultan Abdullah as the veteran politician claimed to have the parliamentary majority to form the next federal government.

But his challenge for the leadership did not immediately succeed, with the palace authorities later saying he did not provide a list of the MPs who backed him.

This was followed by Umno's threat to leave PN. Mr Muhyiddin's government, which has only a two-seat majority in the Lower House, would effectively collapse should Umno withdraw its support. The party previously refused to join Mr Muhyiddin's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and PAS in registering PN as a formal coalition.

Meanwhile, Mr Anwar has been summoned by the Malaysian police to provide a statement today after a list of MPs who purportedly supported his premiership bid surfaced online.

Umno MPs whose names were allegedly on the list had lodged police reports.

The police confirmed yesterday they are investigating the matter.

To date, Mr Anwar, the MP for Port Dickson and president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, has not divulged the list of names of those backing his premiership bid.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Anwar merely said the number of MPs backing him exceeded 120.

Mr Muhyiddin's administration has a razor-thin majority of 113 MPs in the 222-seat Lower House.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2020, with the headline 'Cracks appear between Umno, PAS over backing for Muhyiddin'. Print Edition | Subscribe