Categories: World

Malaysian election deadline delayed as talks continue

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s longest-ruling coalition said on Monday it has not decided which potential government it will support after elections at the weekend did not have enough seats to seize power on its own, and would ask the king of the nation to give him more time.

The announcement of the National Front has prolonged the electoral uncertainty. King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah initially set a 2:00 p.m. Monday deadline for political leaders to submit their pick for prime minister and an alliance representing a parliamentary majority.

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim arrives at a hotel for talks about forming a coalition government.Credit:vincent thian

But the monarch said later on Monday that he would extend it until Tuesday after a request from political parties.

The reform bloc of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim secured 82 seats in the federal parliament, well short of the 112 needed for a simple majority. The Malaysian nationalist alliance led by former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin trailed behind with 73 seats, but has secured support from blocs in two Borneo island states that together hold 28 seats.

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The National Front, led by the United Malays National Organization, ruled Malaysia from 1957, when it gained independence from Britain, until it suffered a shock defeat in the 2018 election to Anwar’s bloc. His plan for a strong comeback was thwarted after winning just 30 seats in Saturday’s election as many ethnic Malays left the party tainted by bribery from Muhyiddin’s bloc.

UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said his alliance had formed a negotiating committee to hold talks with both blocs.

Amid a divisive split in his party, he said any individual statement or written oath taken by the group’s 30 lawmakers who support any bloc was invalid because the decision would only be made by the coalition’s top decision-making body. Anyone who goes against it can be fired, he warned.

Zahid, who faces dozens of corruption charges, faces a revolt within his party amid growing calls for him to step down and take responsibility for electoral losses. Some lawmakers who won openly expressed their support for Muhyiddin’s bloc, but others warned that reviving that association could lead to a repeat of the infighting that led to political turmoil.

Many rural Malays, who make up two-thirds of Malaysia’s 33 million people — which includes large ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities — fear losing their rights to greater pluralism under Anwar’s multi-ethnic alliance. This, along with the corruption in UMNO, has benefited Muhyiddin’s bloc.


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