KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — A series of news reports and cryptic quotes from PKR lawmakers now suggest that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim may have been named as Pakatan Harapan’s choice for prime minister, despite earlier affirmations of support for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Several news organisations citing sources reported that all 92 PH MPs declared for Anwar during their audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, while others also suggested a deal has been struck to allow Dr Mahathir to continue and for Anwar to take over as planned.
Singapore’s The Straits Times cited sources who suggested Anwar’s sudden nomination came on the back of opposition against Dr Mahathir’s proposed unity government.
“PH doesn’t want to govern with Umno or Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) leaders whether as a coalition of parties, or a collection of individuals,” a source was quoted as saying.
If the report is true, PH’s sudden move adds a new twist to the impasse.
Anwar also told reporters upon leaving the Istana Negara that statutory declarations previously made to affirm support for Dr Mahathir to remain as prime minister were no longer valid.
The development could mean that no candidate commands a clear majority among federal lawmakers. Umno and PAS legislators have already withdrawn their support for Dr Mahathir and have demanded a snap poll.
Those confirmed to be backing Dr Mahathir are the political parties from Sarawak and Sabah, Bersatu and 11 defectors from PKR. Between them are fewer than 60 seats.
And even if PH’s 92 chose Anwar in a straightforward decision to be prime minister instead of Dr Mahathir, this was still short of the 112 needed for a simple majority and an election may be triggered unless other MPs back their choice as well.
So far Anwar has remained tight-lipped, while PKR secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has denied telling a paper that MPs from his party has named a fellow member for the prime minister post.
Saifuddin said he had only mentioned that the MPs have already named its eight prime minister candidate to the Agong today.
“All of the MPs from Keadilan have filled the prime minister candidate form in front of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” Saifuddin told Malay Mail after meeting Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, just a short while ago.
PKR communication chief Fahmi Fadzil said statements made by any of its MP not sanctioned or authorised by the party did not represent the party position.
The Agong is set to complete interviews of all 222 parliamentarians by this evening.
Today, 132 MPs from PH, Warisan and a faction led by Datuk Seri Azmin Ali were slated to inform him whether they back interim prime minister Mahathir to continue leading the country, or if they preferred a snap election less than two years after the May 2018 polls.