KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia’s two rival prime minister candidates Anwar Ibrahim and Muhyiddin Yassin both staked their claim to form the country’s next government in the early hours of Sunday, after polls closed on a fiercely fought general election.
Former premier Muhyiddin and hundreds of supporters from his Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition celebrated at a hotel in Glenmarie, Selangor, after he declared PN had won 73 out of the 222 seats in Parliament.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin said his coalition would hold discussions with parties from Sabah and Sarawak to form the federal government, but discounted the idea of working with arch-rival Pakatan Harapan (PH), led by Datuk Seri Anwar, to achieve this.
“We have received a letter from the National Palace with instructions on the requirements we need to fulfil according to the King. We need to do it as soon as possible. We will have a meeting tomorrow. Hopefully, everything will be concluded by tomorrow afternoon,” he told a news conference early on Sunday. He did not provide further details of what these requirements were.
PN supporters were heard shouting “Tolak Zahid”, or “Reject Zahid”, in reference to Umno president Zahid Hamidi, who is fighting 47 corruption charges in court. Umno performed dismally in the election, but still secured 30 seats, making it a potential partner to boost PN’s numbers.
Around the same time, some 6km away in Subang Jaya, opposition leader Anwar claimed that his PH coalition has gained a simple majority of more than 112 parliamentary seats – enough to form the next government.
“PH, the party from the largest bloc, has obtained enough numbers to form a government with a majority vote,” he told reporters in the wee hours of Sunday.
“It’s impossible for Muhyiddin to claim that he has the numbers when we have it in writing. We have the documents ready to submit to the Agong as earliest as possible,” Mr Anwar added, referring to the King. PH had secured 82 seats in the election as at 5am on Sunday.
Other potential kingmaker parties include Gabungan Parti Sarawak, which secured 22 seats, and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah – an ally of PN – who won six seats.