Umno MPs lodge police reports to deny support for Anwar

Complaints being filed as their names are on MP list being spread on social media, they say

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaking during a press conference at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur last month. He is scheduled to meet the Malaysian King on Tuesday to present his list of MP supporters.
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim speaking during a press conference at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur last month. He is scheduled to meet the Malaysian King on Tuesday to present his list of MP supporters.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PETALING JAYA • Several Umno MPs have started lodging police reports to deny accusations that they are supporting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the next Prime Minister of Malaysia.

They have resorted to lodging police reports as their names are on the list of MPs being spread on social media, alleging they support Mr Anwar's claim that he has a "formidable" group of MPs behind him to topple the government of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Some of these MPs had already issued statements denying any involvement on the plot by Mr Anwar, but they felt the need to lodge complaints with the police just before Mr Anwar is scheduled to meet the Malaysian King on Tuesday to present his list of MPs.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin, who came to power seven months ago in a major realignment of MPs, has the support of 113 MPs in the 222-seat Parliament at the last count. This is just two more than the minimum 111 needed to pass Bills and stave off a no-confidence motion against him.

There has been widespread speculation in the last two weeks since Mr Anwar's claim, that he has the support of 120 or 121 federal lawmakers.

Mr Anwar has been coy about who actually are on his list, saying he must first show it to Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin.

His claim gained credence after Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he knew "many" Umno legislators support Mr Anwar, but that the party is powerless to stop them. Umno has 38 MPs, the second biggest number held by a single party in Parliament after the 42 seats held by the opposition Democratic Action Party.

Umno MP Shahidan Kassim from Perlis said he has directed his aide to lodge a police report on his behalf as he is under self-quarantine at home.

"I am surprised my name is on the list of MPs allegedly supporting Anwar as nobody had called or approached me," he said when contacted yesterday.

"I asked my aide to lodge a police report on my behalf recently as I have voluntarily put myself under extended self-quarantine while awaiting the third Covid-19 test result although the first two tests returned negative," he said.

Mr Shahidan said he is a party man, and he would follow only Umno's decision on who to support.

"My party is Barisan Nasional, Muafakat Nasional, and currently Perikatan Nasional as Umno MPs are holding Cabinet posts. If Umno no longer supported Perikatan, its MPs would not be holding Cabinet posts," he said.

Mr Shahidan said it was irresponsible of Mr Anwar to use the media to stake the claim that he had the majority to form a new government.

"If he had the numbers, he should prove it in Parliament or present it before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King)," the veteran MP said. "Why make a pre-emptive announcement in the media, triggering the perception of political instability?" he added.

Pahang MP Ahmad Nazlan Idris has also lodged a police report denying he had endorsed any statutory declaration supporting Mr Anwar as the next Prime Minister.

Datuk Ahmad Nazlan said neither Mr Anwar nor his representative had ever approached him to discuss the matter. "Claims that I support Anwar are not true," he said.

Of the list of 121 MPs allegedly supporting Mr Anwar, 22 are from Umno. Fifteen of these have openly denied supporting him.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

  • THE KING'S POSSIBLE MOVES

  • The Malaysian King is set to play a key role in what happens next after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim claimed he had majority support to form a government.

  • Datuk Seri Anwar said he has an audience on Tuesday with the monarch, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, to prove his assertion.

    Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has maintained that he is still the legitimate leader.

    Here are a few ways the King could decide to resolve the impasse:

    1. CALL AN ELECTION

    The King has the power to dissolve Parliament, after which an election must be held within 60 days.

    Lawmakers from the ruling and opposition coalitions have called for snap polls to resolve the political uncertainty once and for all, as Tan Sri Muhyiddin was sworn into office in March following the collapse of a government that took power after the 2018 general election. Mr Muhyiddin could also call an election, which he had said he might do if his alliance wins the Sabah state polls. His Gabungan Rakyat Sabah did win the Sabah polls on Sept 26.

    2. SEEK NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE

    The monarch could request the Speaker of the Lower House to bring forward the next parliamentary sitting, currently set for Nov 2, to hold a vote of no confidence earlier.

    The opposition has been planning to challenge Mr Muhyiddin's support in Parliament for months, but the Speaker has repeatedly placed the motion at the bottom of the agenda.

    In July, Mr Muhyiddin proved he held a slim majority in Parliament when he replaced the Speaker.

    3. APPOINT PRIME MINISTER

    After former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad abruptly resigned in February, the King spent days speaking with each of the 222 lawmakers to find out who they support, which led to Mr Muhyiddin's appointment.

    This time, there is no leadership vacuum, so the monarch may need to urge the current premier to step down if Mr Anwar has the backing of a majority of lawmakers in Parliament.

    BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 11, 2020, with the headline 'Umno MPs lodge police reports to deny support for Anwar'. Print Edition | Subscribe