Malaysia Opposition Leader Says Current Government Is ‘Fearful’

(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said it’s “very unlikely” the current government will last until the next election, even as his coalition lacks a simple majority in parliament.

“If the current government actually had the confidence, they would have conducted the affairs of parliament in a more usual manner,” Anwar said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Haslinda Amin. “They did not.”

“And clearly they were fearful of the success -- of possibility of success -- of the vote of no confidence. So the issue of the legitimacy of the government is in question now,” he added.

Malaysia Opposition Leader Says Current Government Is ‘Fearful’

Meanwhile, his Pakatan Harapan coalition will focus on ensuring its 107 lawmakers, of the total 222, remain intact, he added. The country is set to hold its next election before or in September 2023.

Malaysia avoided a challenge to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin during the first parliamentary sitting since he took power, scheduling only a single day to accommodate a formal speech from the king. That left no time for the opposition to start a motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin, who rose to power in March after a weeklong political crisis.

In the Tuesday interview, Anwar avoided answering whether he would be the opposition coalition’s choice for prime minister instead of former leader Mahathir Mohamad. “It’s not about personalities here,” he said.

Anwar has long waited to take the reins as prime minister from Mahathir, both in the 1990s and again after the pair joined forces for a shock election win in 2018 on an anti-corruption platform. Disagreement over a timeline for the transition helped bring down the coalition in February, with Mahathir’s abrupt resignation setting off a power struggle that saw Muhyiddin emerge as the surprise victor.

Longtime rivals Anwar and Mahathir have since reunited, releasing a joint statement on May 9 to say “it’s time” to restore the election mandate they won in 2018. The truce looks fragile: Although Anwar is the formal leader of the coalition, he skipped a briefing Mahathir held after the parliament’s sitting in which the former premier spoke on behalf of the bloc.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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