Report: Anwar likely to stay Opposition chief despite failure to prove ‘formidable’ majority

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim waves at reporters as he leaves Istana Negera, Kuala Lumpur October 13, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim waves at reporters as he leaves Istana Negera, Kuala Lumpur October 13, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should remain the federal Opposition leader despite missing his self-imposed deadline to prove he had the support needed to oust Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the prime minister, according to Pakatan Harapan sources.

They told The Straits Times that PH was not expected to press Anwar on the pledge he made last week after his controversial order for the Opposition to let Budget 2021 through the policy stage.

The sources explained that Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, who is in contention to take over, hurt his standing after his party’s lawmakers snubbed several divisions in Parliament to signal their displeasure with Anwar over the Budget 2021 vote.

“The (Warisan) boycott will cause trouble for those who want to put forward Shafie’s name.

“This gives Anwar an excuse, as he can say Warisan sabotaged him,” one anonymous PH lawmaker reportedly told ST.

Anwar previously claimed he wanted the Opposition to pick apart Budget 2021 at the committee stage so as not to jeopardise the entire federal spending plan that contained a raft of populist measures.

However, the Opposition lost in every division of the House by margins larger than PN’s razor-thin majority this week.

The sources said Anwar will have at least until the final vote on Budget 2021 on December 15 to substantiate his claim of having the support of enough lawmakers of both sides to take over the government from Perikatan Nasional.

Prior to last week’s voting, the Opposition had built up expectations that it would put up a fierce fight against Budget 2021 in order to test the strength of PN’s majority in Parliament.

By convention, a rejection of the federal Budget is considered a successful vote of no-confidence against the ruling party and should be met by the resignation of the entire Cabinet.

The Opposition was forced down this route as none of the over two dozen motions of no-confidence submitted against Muhyiddin for this meeting is expected to make it to the House due to the Standing Orders that prioritise government matters over private member motions.

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