Thursday, 3 Dec 2020

Embattled Malaysia PM Muhyiddin wins 'undivided loyalty' from ally PAS

KUALA LUMPUR – Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has been further boosted on Tuesday (Oct 27) by Parti Islam SeMalaysia’s (PAS) “undivided loyalty” for his leadership, coming just hours after Umno decided not to quit the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government following a series of marathon meetings on Monday for the largest ruling party.

PAS secretary general Takiyuddin Hassan said in a statement that it also calls on the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) to “defend the leadership of the Prime Minister”.

“PAS expresses its undivided loyalty for the leadership of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and at the same time stresses the support of all 18 MPs with the PN government,” he said.

Mr Muhyiddin’s control of Parliament has been in doubt since Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), said last month he has a “formidable majority”.

While the assertion has never been proved, Sunday’s royal rebuff of the government’s play for emergency powers has raised pressure on whether the premier’s already shaky bloc of 113 members of the 222-strong Lower House still holds.

The Straits Times understands that a meeting of BN MPs, followed by Umno state and central leaderships that lasted from Monday afternoon to past midnight failed to reach a consensus on a way forward for the grand old party.

Some factions in the party want to reclaim the premiership that it held from independence until its shock electoral defeat in 2018.

Meanwhile, former premier Najib Razak admitted to suggesting a pact with Datuk Seri Anwar, although sans the PKR ally Democratic Action Party (DAP), which Umno alleges is out to undermine the interests of the Malay Muslim majority.

However, Umno has repeated its call for better terms from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president Muhyiddin in exchange for its support.

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With Budget 2021 to be tabled on Nov 6, this leaves the premier with about 10 days to ensure the crucial spending Bill is presented with the confidence that it can survive a parliamentary vote.

The government would otherwise collapse if it is unable to approve expenditure, leaving Malaysia open to the spectre of national polls that would worsen what is already its worst month of coronavirus infections on record so far.

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