Malaysia’s king granted party leaders another 24 hours to decide on their choice of alliance and prime minister, days after a national vote produced a hung parliament.
Party leaders have until 2pm today to present to the monarch their plans to form a new government, a palace statement said, released about 30 minutes before the original deadline.
Neither Anwar Ibrahim’s reformist, multi-ethnic Pakatan Harapan coalition nor Muhyiddin Yassin’s Islamist alliance won enough parliamentary seats to gain a majority on Saturday. Former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional has emerged a kingmaker, with leader Zahid Hamidi saying the party had not decided which coalition to back.
The delay threatens to further drag out Malaysia’s years of political instability. No prime minister has remained in power for more than 22 months since the last general election in 2018.
Shortly after the palace issued the statement, Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional alliance said it had submitted declarations of more than 112 lawmakers to support Muhyiddin as prime minister. The alliance won 73 of the 220 parliamentary seats contested on Saturday, fewer than Pakatan Harapan’s 82.
Perikatan Nasional includes the Islamist Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, PAS, whose electoral gains caused stocks related to gaming and alcohol to slump yesterday. Its rise could dent investor confidence as the party has previously called for the implementation of hardline Shariah law in the country.
Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan leaders earlier this morning gathered at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, although the meeting did not result in a definitive outcome. An agreement between the two would be enough to form a government with a simple majority. One Barisan Nasional member of parliament, former Malaysian minister of defense Hishammuddin Hussein, said he would rather be sacked from the party than work with Pakatan Harapan.
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