The Asian Voice

Will Anwar's 22-year wait end on Tuesday?: The Star columnist

In her commentary, the writer says that Malaysia's King can give his consent to a prime minister who commands the majority in Parliament but it is a more complicated process for a sitting prime minister to be removed.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has secured an audience with Malaysia's King and many are transfixed about what will happen at the palace on Tuesday (Oct 13), says the writer.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has secured an audience with Malaysia's King and many are transfixed about what will happen at the palace on Tuesday (Oct 13), says the writer.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is almost within touching distance of his dream job if his claims to having the numbers are to be believed.

The opposition leader has secured an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and many are transfixed about what will happen at the palace on Tuesday (Oct 13).

It has been more than two weeks since Mr Anwar dropped the bombshell that he has the numbers to form the next government, and his hardcore supporters think his 22-year wait for the premiership is about to end.

Even those who believed that Mr Anwar would be the prime minister-in-waiting forever are having second thoughts.

Mr Anwar seems immensely confident and has said that he will present documents to show he has the support of a "strong and convincing majority" of MPs.

"Going to the palace is a serious thing. There must be something there for him to seek an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong," said an Umno MP.

There are few secrets in politics but Mr Anwar's numbers have got to be one of the best kept secrets so far.

Mr Anwar's partners in Pakatan Harapan are still in the dark, as are his own party leaders.

His politician daughter, Ms Nurul Izzah Anwar, is said to have been kept out of the loop on this takeover business.

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is expected to be at her husband's side at the palace, would probably know but the lady is such a discreet keeper of secrets.

"Anwar has been very secretive; he is keeping his cards close to his chest. This is to avoid leaks," said Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president and Tanjung Malim MP Chang Lih Kang.

Or as Mr Anwar's political secretary, Mr Farhash Wafa Salvador, who is privy to the information, put it: "This has to be kept secret or else there will be poaching and intimidation."

Mr Farhash also rubbished a list comprising 121 MPs who were allegedly supporting Mr Anwar that was circulating last week. The list included a number of Umno MPs who had earlier denied that they support Anwar.

"That did not come from us. We have nothing to do with it. That's the work of people with too much time on their hands," said Mr Farhash.

The hype has been greatest in the Chinese vernacular press, with one newspaper speculating that Mr Anwar has 123 MPs, while another claimed he has as many as 126 MPs on his side.

If those numbers materialise, it could mean that Malaysia will have its third prime minister in a year.

But those who have been crunching the numbers say that Mr Anwar's quest would be possible only if he is also assured of support from Pejuang, Warisan, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Umno.

Support from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's group of MPs is doubtful. There is no love lost between the two men and the expression on Dr Mahathir's face when commenting on Mr Anwar's bid for the premiership was a look that could have sunk a thousand ships.

Parti Warisan Sabah president Mohd Shafie Apdal was a contender for the top job but he is a horse with a broken leg after the Sabah debacle. However, there is no reason why the Warisan MPs would not throw their support behind Mr Anwar.

GPS, on the other hand, has declared that it is standing by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has hinted of support from Umno MPs but his aides said their boss is more interested in an early general election than in making Mr Anwar the next prime minister.

But, as Mr Farhash has often stressed, things are very fluid and anything can happen.

The Chinese media has been feeding what some see as an appetite among those Chinese who want to see Pakatan return to power.

There is still bitterness among many Chinese over the way Pakatan was toppled.

"I wouldn't say the Chinese supporters of Pakatan are 100 per cent convinced about the numbers but you get the impression they don't mind having Anwar as the PM," said political analyst Khaw Veon Szu.

However, Mr Khaw pointed out that while it needs only a couple of MPs to jump for the government to lose its majority in Parliament, it will require much more for Mr Anwar to form what he promises will be a strong and stable government.

The other thing is that Mr Anwar would not be causing all these ripples if Tan Sri Muhyiddin had a solid majority in Parliament.

Mr Muhyiddin's government has been vulnerable from day one and the only way out is to call for fresh elections.

Democratic Action Party politician Jeff Ooi, a columnist in two leading Chinese newspapers, said that changing affiliations in Parliament is common in politics all over the world.

"But we have people accusing Muhyiddin of leading a backdoor government. Yet these same people are now open to what is basically another backdoor government in the making. Where is the principle?" said Mr Ooi.

The palace doors have swung open for Mr Anwar and it is now up to him to present his case to the King.

Those watching from outside need to know that the King can give his consent to a prime minister who commands the majority in Parliament but it is a more complicated process for a sitting prime minister to be removed.

Much will depend on what Mr Anwar is bringing to the table on Tuesday.

The countdown has begun and political careers may either end or begin depending on what happens on Tuesday.

The writer is a columnist with The Star. The Star is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media entities.