The main political alliances in Malaysia have spent the last two days negotiating to get enough support from parliament to form a new government after a week’s inconclusive elections.
King Al-Sultan Abdullah gave them a deadline of 2pm (06:00 GMT) on Tuesday to submit affidavits of support. The state news agency Bernama said they will make a decision soon.
Outgoing Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob called the election earlier under pressure from his party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), saying it would help restore stability after three prime ministers in almost as many years.
Here’s what you need to know about efforts to create a new governing agreement:
For the first time in Malaysia’s history, an election resulted in a stable parliament without a single party or coalition winning the necessary parliamentary majority to form a government.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition led by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim won 82 seats, meaning it needs the support of at least 30 other MPs to secure 112 seats in parliament.
The Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition led by former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin won 73 seats, with the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, controlled by UMNO, third with 30 seats.
Other key groups in the talks are from the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak.
Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) has 23 representatives in the new parliament, while Gabungan Parti Rakyat (GPR), based in Sabah, has six. Warisan, another party from Sabah has three.
How are the negotiations going?
Anwar announced on Sunday morning the results of the survey were announced that PH had enough support to form a government, but did not say much.
The PH camp was quiet on Sunday, while Muhyiddin and PN dominated the headlines, sharing a picture of the alliance in talks with Sarawak leader Abang Johari Openg.
Abang Johari later issued a statement saying that the parties in Borneo and BN had agreed to support Muhyiddin.
But BN has denied any decision that has been made, amid rumors of a tie-up with PH.
On Monday morning, the leaders of PH and BN were shown shaking hands and discussing at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
After the meeting, Anwar said he was “very pleased” with the way the talks went and hoped they would be able to form a government.
BN said any decision would come from its central electoral body, but even though the talks seemed to be going well, PN released a statement saying it had submitted the list of MPs to the king. He has said that he agrees with what the government wants to establish, but he did not mention the words.
GPS’s Abang Johari, meanwhile, said things were “unsettled” and his team was still negotiating a deal to join. Warisan said it will back the PH-BN combo.
At the eleventh hour on Tuesday, Ismail Sabri announced on Twitter that BN will not join any coalition and remain in opposition. There was no comment from UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Ismail Sabri is one of the party’s vice presidents.
Without BN’s support, the leading coalition could rule as a minority government.
Alhamdulillah, the Supreme Council (BN) of Barisan Nasional (BN) has decided not to join any coalition to form a government.
BN is not affiliated with Pakatan Harapan (PH) or Perikatan Nasional (PN).
Meanwhile, BN has agreed to remain in opposition.
– Ismail Sabri (@IsmailSabri60) November 22, 2022
Why are these issues so difficult?
The politicians taking part in the talks have beliefs and conflicts from the past, which have been complicated by Malaysia’s multicultural society – the majority are Malay Muslims, but there are also a minority of Chinese, Indians and Buddhists, Christians. and Hinduism among other faiths. . Race and religion can be divisive issues.
Anwar Ibrahim began his political career as a student, founding the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia, known by its Malay name ABIM, in 1971.
He later joined UMNO where he quickly rose to become finance minister and deputy prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, but in September 1998 he was suddenly sacked.
Mahathir accused Anwar of corruption and immorality, a crime in Malaysia, and thousands of people took to the streets.
The incident, which resulted in Anwar’s imprisonment, sparked calls for reform and the formation of the multi-ethnic Keadilan party, which stands for Malay justice, a key pillar of the PH coalition. PH also includes the multi-party but mainly China Democratic Action Party (DAP), which is unpopular with the Malays who follow the rule of law, and the Islamic reform party Amanah.
It is also supported by MUDA, a youth party that has one seat in parliament.
The rise of the reform movement in the 2000s and beyond has led to significant changes in Malaysian politics.
BN, an ethnic coalition that also includes parties representing Malaysians from China and India, once dominated post-independence politics but lost power for the first time in 2018 – to PH – amid the multi-billion dollar scandal over 1MDB. His performance over the weekend was his worst ever.
The main beneficiary of the union’s troubles has been the PN, the conservative Malay party.
The coalition also includes Bersatu, founded by UMNO members angry about 1MDB, and expanded by former Keadilan members whose betrayal in February 2020 led to the fall of the PH government.
Another part of the PN is the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), which has been in power in northeastern Kelantan but has been expanding its influence in recent years. The party, which has said it wants to implement Islamic law, has criticized its strong performance in the recent election, which saw it win 44 seats and become the largest party in parliament.
The country of Borneo, where Islam is not the dominant religion, often keeps the island’s activities – a two-hour journey across the South China Sea – to its length. However, they have been pushing for greater recognition of their role in the development of Malaysia, and a greater share of government revenue.
The leadership situation in BN has also disrupted the negotiations. The union’s chairman, Zahid, has faced calls for his resignation due to the union’s poor electoral performance, with suspicions that he forced Ismail Sabri to call the elections. He is also on trial for corruption related to the charity.
Malaysia’s Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ) set up a panel to monitor hate speech in the media during the political era and its data showed that race-related issues dominate the political news.
During the analysis part of the campaign identified PAS and its leader Abdul Hadi Awang as one of the worst offenders.
“They have used the fear of Muslim voters with words like ‘go to hell if you vote for Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional’, and promote the violence of ‘kafir harbi’ (enemies of Islam), and call Malays to unite and fight against them. Chinese (DAP) and Indians, ” CIJ said in its statement.
Muhyiddin also attracted criticism after he said at a PN meeting that PH was working with Christians and Jews to “convert” Muslims in Malaysia in a statement that was widely shared on TikTok.
Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) Secretary General Reverend Jonathan Jesusdas said:
Race and religion have remained hot topics in some corners of the media since the election with videos of the May 1969 riots in Kuala Lumpur circulating on Tiktok.
On Monday night police warned people to post “seditious” material.
“Strict actions … will be taken against users who want to start activities that may endanger public safety,” Inspector-General of Police Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said in a statement.
The 1969 riots killed nearly 200 people, most of them ethnic Chinese, and followed the Chinese-backed opposition party’s resounding success in that year’s election.
The issue was criticized by Anwar, while Abdul Hadi warned the people not to do anything offensive that could undermine the unity.