Malaysian factions manoeuvre as king tries to end turmoil

Rumours of a new coalition forming in Malaysia have been making the rounds. — Reuters  File

Earlier on Tuesday, a spokesman for the king said the country remained "in peace and order" despite the tumult around Mahathir's sudden resignation and the collapse of the ruling Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition, when three dozen MPs pulled out from the political alliance.

The prime minister's office said in a brief statement that Mahathir submitted his resignation to Malaysia's king at 1 p.m. but gave no further details.

Tension came to a head at the weekend when Azmin launched a bid with several ruling coalition MPs to join opposition groups and form a new coalition excluding Anwar, which would have ended his hopes of becoming premier.

Minutes before the resignation, Mahathir's Bersatu party confirmed it had pulled out a four-party alliance that ousted the government of former leader Najib Razak in 2018.

"Dr Mahathir's appointment as interim PM means that he now has time to rearrange and form a new interim Cabinet based on the list given to him by the six party representatives".

What once was can now no longer be; in a recent report by Malay Mail, Barisan Nasional, the once leading political coalition in Malaysia, has officially withdrawn its support for ex-Barisan Nasional member and current interim Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar in a news conference said the coalition invited Mahathir to chair its presidential council, but Mahathir declined.

The struggle between Mahathir, 94, and Anwar, 72, who formed a surprise pact to win a 2018 election, has shaped Malaysian politics for more than two decades and is at the root of the latest crisis. The king holds a largely ceremonial role but appoints the person with majority support as the prime minister.

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The drama unraveled on Sunday with maneuvers aimed at keeping Mahathir in power and thwarting Anwar, replaying their old feud.

Yeo was explaining why PH made a decision to back PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be the country's next prime minister despite previously saying it backed Dr Mahathir.

Mahathir Mohamad broke his silence since resigning on Wednesday, saying that he was willing to return to power if there was sufficient support for him to establish a non-partisan government that only prioritizes the interest of the country.

"We await the decision from the king to decide", he added.

"The promise to hand over power after APEC by Mahathir has been invalidated by these events", Kadir Jasin, an adviser to Mahathir, told AFP.

The connection between Anwar and Mahathir has formed Malaysian politics for greater than 20 years and helped immediate the most recent disaster - after Mahathir resisted stress to set a date for a promised switch of energy to Anwar.

Mahathir said, "Politics and political parties need to be put aside for now". But he was freed and pardoned by the king after the alliance won power.

Mahathir's proposed unity government could have provided him larger authority than for the duration of a spell as key minister from 1981 till his retirement in 2003, throughout which he is credited with turning a farming backwater into an industrial nation. UMNO and the Islamic party, which jointly controls a quarter of parliamentary seats, have also withdrawn their support for Mahathir and called for fresh elections.

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