KOTA KINABALU - Sabah's Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal said he would seriously think about a suggestion by some in Malaysia's opposition to make him a candidate for the country's next prime minister.
Datuk Seri Shafie said he had to consult with his colleagues in Parti Warisan Sabah on the matter. He is president of Warisan, which has nine federal MPs including himself, The Star newspaper quoted him as saying.
The offer to name Mr Shafie, 63, a compromise candidate for Malaysia's prime ministership by the opposition was made amid a bitter tussle between two veteran leaders - Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad - for the post.
The opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) and its allies under the so-called PH Plus umbrella are hoping to put up a prime ministerial candidate as they make a push to oust the four-month-old Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.
PN is led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Malaysia's eighth prime minister.
But Mr Anwar, 72, and Dr Mahathir, 94, have both insisted on being the opposition's candidate to be the ninth prime minister.
Mr Shafie's name was proposed by some within PH Plus over the weekend as a possible compromise candidate.
Said Mr Shafie on Monday (June 29), as quoted by The Star: "We appreciate this, and I am grateful that my name was even suggested."
Asked whether he still trusted Dr Mahathir after several U-turns and unfulfilled promises to Sabah when he was PM, Mr Shafie said this was not the only issue to consider.
"We need to evaluate and see what is the best for the state and for nation-building," he said.
He said he would most likely announce something more concrete within a month.
PH consists of Mr Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat with 38 MPs, the Democratic Action Party with 42 MPs and Parti Amanah Negara with 11 - totalling 91 MPs.
PH Plus consists of these three parties, plus Warisan's nine MPs and five renegade MPs from Dr Mahathir's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia including Dr Mahathir himself.
These 105 federal lawmakers and at least three more lawmakers from small parties, hope to entice a few other MPs to side with them to topple Tan Sri Muhyiddin's PN government, whose majority in Parliament hasn't been tested since he was sworn in as prime minister on March 1.
PN is believed to have at least 114 MPs on its side, with the minimum 112 needed to control the House.
PN comprises the majority of Bersatu's MPs led by its president PM Muhyiddin (around 20 MPs), Umno (38 MPs), Parti Islam SeMalaysia (18 MPs), Gabungan Parti Sarawak (18 MPs) and several smaller parties.
Meanwhile, in a reflection of the continuing tumult in Mr Anwar's PKR, the party has sacked five leaders, The Star reported.
They are PKR's women's wing chief Haniza Talha, a Penang state assemblyman Zulkifli Ibrahim, a Penang division deputy chief Afif Bahardin, and two state women's wing chiefs - Rahimah Majid of Sabah and Nur Zarina Zakaria of Penang.
PKR also issued warning letters to a vice-president Tian Chua, Melaka state assemblywoman Ginie Lim, and Penang communication chief Carolyn Khor.
These leaders are believed to have sided with the PKR faction previously led by its former deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin.
Mr Azmin, a federal MP, in late February left PKR with 10 other MPs to join up with Mr Muhyiddin, which partly caused the downfall of the 21-month-old PH government.
Mr Anwar who has since take full control of PKR has been sacking and issuing warning letters to those who had sided with Mr Azmin in the years-long battle to control the party.