Malaysia's Anwar says documents given to king show support of over 120 lawmakers

[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he presented names of lawmakers who support him to the king, who will now determine whether he has enough support to form a new government.

Mr Anwar said he had the backing of more than 120 lawmakers in the 222-member Parliament, adding that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's government had lost his majority and should resign. He urged everyone to allow the monarch, known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, to carry out his duties.

"With these documents, it is abundantly clear that we have registered formidable convincing majority among parliamentarians," Mr Anwar said. The king assured him he would respect the constitution, and the issue of a snap election didn't arise, Mr Anwar added.

Mr Anwar last month announced he commanded enough support to oust Mr Muhyiddin, who took power in March with a margin of only a handful of votes after another coalition government collapsed. The current ruling bloc has said the move will fail.

Mr Anwar on Tuesday reiterated his commitment to institutional reform, judicial independence and the rule of law.

"There's no question about cutting deals with individuals as alleged by some quarters," Mr Anwar said.

The king has several options if he's convinced that Mr Anwar has the backing of a majority in Parliament, including a dissolution of Parliament, ordering a confidence vote or appointing him as the new prime minister. The monarch played a key role in interviewing lawmakers back in February after former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigned, triggering the instability that has gripped Malaysia for much of the year.

"Frankly, I do not think it will be a smooth and easy ride for Anwar," said Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. It's unlikely Mr Anwar will succeed as the government would've used resources to lure back defectors from the time Mr Anwar first staked claim to power three weeks ago, he said.

Malaysia ruling parties have dismissed Mr Anwar's move as a tactic to destabilise the country's politics. Over the weekend, they closed ranks around Mr Muhyiddin.

'DESPERATE MOVE'

"PAS is very confident that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong won't entertain this desperate move," Parti Se-Islam Malaysia, a coliation partner, said in a statement Sunday.

The Barisan Nasional coalition supports Mr Muhyiddin as prime minister and won't work with Mr Anwar, its secretary-general Annuar Musa wrote on Facebook. Mr Annuar is also a party leader of the United Malays National Organisation, which Mr Muhyiddin counts among his biggest supporters.

The Malaysian Chinese Association, one of the grouping's members, in a separate statement said the party will not join or participate in any plans by Mr Anwar to form a new government.

A snap election risks worsening Malaysia's coronavirus outbreak. New infections surged to record-highs weeks after a state election held in Sabah last month, fueled by politicians who failed to follow social distancing guidelines when campaigning in the eastern state.

The government Monday imposed curbs on movement in its capital city of Kuala Lumpur, administrative capital Putrajaya and in the states of Selangor and Sabah, as the virus spread. The restrictions also pulled the nation's key stock index down 0.8 per cent at the close.

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