Malaysia Latest: Rivals Race to Form Government Before Deadline
Neither Anwar’s reformist, multi-ethnic Pakatan Harapan coalition nor Muhyiddin’s pro-Malay, Islamist alliance won enough to hit a majority of 111 out of 220 seats.
(Bloomberg) -- Would-be Malaysian prime ministers Anwar Ibrahim and Muhyiddin Yassin were locked in a battle to secure enough votes to form a government by a mid-afternoon deadline after Saturday’s election resulted in the country’s first-ever hung parliament.
Neither Anwar’s reformist, multi-ethnic Pakatan Harapan coalition nor Muhyiddin’s pro-Malay, Islamist alliance won enough to hit a majority of 111 out of 220 seats. Malaysia’s king has set a 2 p.m. deadline for lawmakers to inform him of their choice for prime minister.
A key question is which side a third major player, former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional, will take. For now, leaders of that coalition will be meeting Anwar’s alliance ahead of the palace deadline.
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The ringgit declined against the dollar, making it the worst performing currency in Asia on Monday. Most of Malaysia’s gaming and alcohol-related stocks declined following the Islamist party PAS’ advance in the elections through Muhyiddin’s alliance. The party has been pushing to ban sales of alcohol and close down casinos.
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(All times local)
BN Leaders Meeting with Anwar’s Coalition Ahead of Deadline (10:05 a.m.)
Poised to become king-makers, leaders of former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional are meeting with Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan alliance ahead of the palace’s deadline. A tie-up between BN and PH would provide them the simple majority to form a new administration.
Ahmad Maslan, the secretary-general of BN linchpin UMNO, told reporters outside their meeting place in Kuala Lumpur that 13 liasion chiefs would be present, including the party’s deputy president. Mohamad Sabu, leader of the National Trust Party that is part of the PH coalition, was also seen entering the premises.
“Ask Anwar, everything ask Anwar,” he said in response to reporters’ queries.
Malaysia’s Hung Parliament Keeps Market Outlook Uncertain (9.27 a.m.)
Investors are expected to take the results in their stride as most have factored in a hung parliament as a “default position,” according to analysts.
The ringgit dropped by 0.60% against the dollar to 4.5837 following the election results, with the Malaysian currency the worst performer in Asia on Monday. Malaysia 10-year yields are steady at 4.32% while the nation’s equity benchmark dropped as much as 1.5%. Most of Malaysia’s gaming and alcohol-related stocks dropped following the Islamic party PAS’ advance in the elections.
Anwar Confident He Will Have an Opportunity to Lead (9:16 p.m.)
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim urged his supporters to be patient, saying he has the numbers to form government. He declined to reveal the parties as these groups would make their own statements.
“I am happy because we have virtually settled this,” Anwar told a local TV station. “With the level of support, I am confident I will be given the opportunity to lead the country.”
Anwar denied having talks with BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
BN Denies Talks with Muhyiddin to Form Government (9:01 p.m.)
The coalition’s chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said there had been no negotiation with Muhyiddin’s PN alliance that could lead to the formation of a new administration.
Zahid, who is facing calls within his party UMNO to step down as president, reminded those who won parliament seats in the elections had signed a letter of undertaking that gives him the mandate to decide on which political alliances to follow. This signals a growing split between Zahid and those loyal to outgoing premier Ismail that could complicate UMNO-led BN’s ability to be a king maker.
He warned that any lawmaker that went against the coalition risked losing their membership and their parliament seat, in line with new anti-hopping laws.
Sarawak Parties Say Willing to Work with Muhyiddin (6:27 p.m.)
A clutch of parties in Sarawak have expressed a readiness to work with Muhyiddin’s PN to form government. The chairman of the Sarawak coalition appeared to suggest that an alliance between the parties of the two Borneo states, BN and PN would help stabilize the country.
Such a grouping would allow Muyhiddin to comfortably exceed the 111 seats threshold to form government and become prime minister.
Muhyiddin later issued a statement saying parties from the Borneo states are willing to work with him. His statement didn’t mention BN. Both BN and the other coalition from Sabah have yet to publicly disclose who they will support.
Calls for UMNO President to Resign Grow Louder (3:30 p.m.)
UMNO President and Barisan Nasional Chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi must resign following the ruling party’s defeat in Saturday’s election produced Malaysia’s first hung parliament, Shahril Hamdan said in a tweet, joining the chorus of voices asking Zahid to step down.
Zahid must lead by example by taking responsibility for the losses, Shahril said while resigning from his position as UMNO’s information chief. This must be done before UMNO makes any further decisions about the future of the party, he said.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who lost in his bid to win a new parliament seat, said Shahril had done the right thing and now senior leaders must follow.
King Orders Party Leaders to Disclose Their Choice of PM (2:16 p.m.)
Malaysian party leaders have until 2 p.m. Monday to inform the nation’s monarch their choice of prime minister and the alliances they have formed, after Saturday’s vote produced the country’s first-ever hung parliament.
The king’s decision on the new government and appointment of the premier will be final, in line with the constitution, the national palace said in a statement Sunday. The ruler has the discretion to name the premier whom he believes commands the majority support of lawmakers.
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