KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 29 — Serian MP Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem has officially joined PKR, potentially strengthening the number of supporters for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to return as the prime minister.
This was announced on PKR’s official Facebook page. The former Human Resources Minister was the sole MP for the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP).
With Richard now in PKR, the estimated number of MPs backing Dr Mahathir has risen to 96, with Parti Pribumi Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin holding a disputed 95 MPs, mostly from Umno, PAS, MCA and MIC.
SUPP is part of the Gabungan Parti Sarawak, which was seen as the kingmaker in deciding who will become the eighth prime minister with its 18 MPs. However, Richard’s defection now leaves it at 17 MPs, while GPS’ stance on who to support remains undecided.
Yesterday, Sarawak deputy chief minister and Parti Rakyat Sarawak president Tan Sri James Masing was reported by the Straits Times as saying that GPS will announce who it is going to support tomorrow (March 1)
Following a meeting with Pakatan Harapan leaders earlier today, Dr Mahathir said he now has the numbers to become the next prime minister, which was later affirmed in a separate statement by Pakatan’s presidential council.
This is in contrast to their remarks yesterday in which Pakatan said they would back PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as their candidate of choice for prime minister.