KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim said on Wednesday (Sept 23) he has a "strong, convincing, formidable majority" to form a new government and that the government of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has "collapsed".
He declined to give the exact number of MPs now on his side. A minimum of 112 MPs is needed to control Parliament in the 222-seat House.
Prior to this, the three-party Pakatan Harapan coalition that he leads has 91 MPs - 38 lawmakers from his Parti Keadilan Rakyat, 42 from the Democratic Action Party and 11 from Parti Amanah Negara.
Datuk Seri Anwar told a news conference at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur that the MPs with him now include those from the ruling Perikatan Nasional alliance.
"We have a strong, convincing, formidable majority," Mr Anwar told reporters. "We need a strong stable government to run this country and to save the country."
He said he would only announce the number of MPs on his side after meeting the Malaysian King.
"With a clear and indisputable support and majority behind me, the government led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has collapsed," added Mr Anwar.
The shock announcement by Mr Anwar came about seven months after the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in late February. The PH government then was led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The speculation is that Mr Anwar's 91 MPs will be joined by a bloc of 18 MPs from the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition and 10 MPs from Umno. If true, this would mean that he has 119 MPs on his side.
Mr Anwar told reporters that Dr Mahathir's group of five MPs, including the statesman himself, would not be joining the new government that he intends to form.
It is not clear if MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman from Johor, who has broken away from the Mahathir group to form a youth party, will be joining Mr Anwar.
It is also not known if another group of nine MPs from Sabah, who have aligned themselves with Dr Mahathir, will throw in their lot with Mr Anwar. They want former Sabah chief minister Shafie Apdal as their prime ministerial candidate.
PM Muhyiddin, in a scheduled speech about new Covid-19 aid packages in the afternoon, ended his 40-minute address by saying the country needs a "stable and strong" government supported by Malaysians to revive the economy.
"I appeal to you ladies and gentlemen, to reject the blind actions of a small group of politicians who purposely want to affect political stability and the economic revival plan which is being carried out well at the moment," he said. It was not clear whether he was referring to Mr Anwar's claims.
GPS leader and Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg said on Wednesday that his coalition continues to support Mr Muhyiddin, and denied it is switching its support to Mr Anwar.
"As I have said in my Malaysia Day's address on Sept 16 in Sibu, GPS is behind Muhyiddin as the prime minister," he told reporters, as quoted by Malay Mail online news. "I don't know how Anwar calculated the numbers of MPs supporting him."
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir, responding to Mr Anwar's claim, said it was not the first time that his former deputy had claimed he has majority parliamentary support, recalling a similar claim made by Mr Anwar in Sept 2008 when Tun Abdullah Badawi was premier. The Barisan Nasional government then wasn't toppled as Mr Anwar failed to produce enough lawmakers who supported him in Parliament.
"We will have to wait to see if this is another episode of making claims that cannot be substantiated," Dr Mahathir said, as quoted by The Edge Singapore, while speaking at a virtual summit.
Malaysia's senior minister Azmin Ali, who left PKR after years of bitter struggle with Mr Anwar for control of the party, wrote on Twitter, of the claim by his former boss: "Incorrigible liar and political psychopath."
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also chief of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, said he knew that "many" MPs from his party and coalition have voiced support for Mr Anwar to form a new government.
"Umno and BN cannot stop MPs who have chosen to support Anwar, who wishes to be granted an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King)," Zahid said in a statement. "I respect the position of those MPs."