Malaysia Ruling Party’s Sabah Minister Pick Could Fray Ties

Malaysia’s ruling coalition named their candidate for chief minister in the key state of Sabah on Monday, in a move that could fray ties between the parties behind Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin’s Bersatu party named one of its own, Hajiji Mohd Noor, to be sworn into office at the state palace Tuesday, Hajiji said in a televised press conference. He added it was a “unanimous decision” by the coalition that won 38 of 73 seats in the Sabah state election on Saturday.

The move could further strain the alliance between Bersatu and its ally, the United Malays National Organisation, whose push for its own candidate caused a lag between the Saturday victory and the Monday announcement. UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi warned against conceding the seat to Bersatu earlier, before putting out a statement to say he respects the choice in line with the autonomy wielded by UMNO’s arm in Sabah.

Muhyiddin controls a razor-thin majority in parliament, and counts UMNO lawmakers as among his biggest supporters. That majority is now under question after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Wednesday he had enough support to form a new government, and was awaiting an audience with the king. Zahid said that several UMNO MPs were backing Anwar.

The palace is set to issue a statement at 6 p.m. local time on Monday, without saying what it will be about.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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