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Anwar gives number of MPs, not names, to King in bid to be PM

He gives only number of MPs said to be backing him, calls on Muhyiddin to quit

KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim met the King yesterday in a bid to prove he has a "convincing" parliamentary majority to form a new government, and he called on Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to resign.

The palace said Mr Anwar provided only the number of members of parliament, whom he said would back his bid to become prime minister, and not their identities.

It is now up to Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin to decide the next steps in Malaysia's power struggle, which comes as it grapples with an economy battered by the coronavirus and a new surge in infections.

If the King is not convinced of Mr Anwar's majority, he would likely allow Mr Muhyiddin to stay on. The King could also call a general election on the advice of the prime minister.

"I appeal to Malaysians... to allow the King to digest, decide based on the spirit of the constitution, and the discretion of his highness," Mr Anwar told reporters.

"We must also remember that Mr Muhyiddin has lost his majority, and it would be appropriate for him to resign."

Mr Anwar, the president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat and MP for Port Dickson, said he had the support of more than 120 lawmakers in the 222-seat Parliament.

Mr Muhyiddin has had a razor-thin majority since coming to power in March.

The Perikatan Nasional government currently rules on a two-seat majority with 113 out of the 222 MPs.

Mr Muhyiddin declined to comment on Mr Anwar's meeting at the palace. "I leave it to the best judgement of the king," he told reporters.

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Mr Anwar said he was looking to form an inclusive government and had extended an olive branch to Mr Muhyiddin and was willing to discuss "whatever is deemed necessary".

The King appointed Mr Muhyiddin prime minister this year after meeting every member of parliament to learn of who they supported.

He will now verify documents that Mr Anwar presented to him and meet other party leaders, Mr Anwar said.

There is scepticism over Mr Anwar's bid for the top job as no major party has made a clear declaration of support.

One party, which is a member of the ruling coalition, has said some of its lawmakers supported Mr Anwar.

"Should the meeting fail to translate into an actionable outcome, his credibility will be affected and this may push the opposition bloc to find another PM candidate," said Mr Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, senior associate at political consultancy Vriens & Partners.

Mr Muhyiddin had earlier dismissed Mr Anwar's claim of majority backing in Parliament as a "mere allegation", and told him to prove it through a constitutional process.

Leaders in Mr Muhyiddin's ruling coalition issued a statement on Monday declaring full support for him. - REUTERS, THE STAR

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