PETALING JAYA: A group of Barisan Nasional MPs are believed to be at a meeting tonight at the home of PKR deputy president Azmin Ali in an attempt to thwart moves to force the departure of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The gathering, also said to be “just a dinner meeting”, was attended by former Umno vice-president Hishamuddin Hussein and about two dozen others from BN, according to sources close to FMT.
Hishammuddin has been linked to talk of moves to form a new government through a realignment of political forces, which PH critics have termed “a government by the back door”. He has denied the rumours.
Members of the media were camped outside Azmin’s home, taking photos of the stream of cars, among them a white Toyota Alphard and several black Proton Perdanas, seen entering the vicinity. Multiple bodyguards and police personnel are also in the area.
Azmin’s ally, PKR vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin, who is housing minister, and party colleague Kamaruddin Jaafar, MP for Bandar Tun Razak and deputy transport minister, were among those seen leaving the house later in the night.
The meeting comes in the wake of Pakatan Harapan’s disastrous outing at the Tanjung Piai by-election on Saturday, when the BN candidate, Wee Jeck Seng of MCA, was elected by an overwhelming majority of 15,086 votes.
Immediately after the election, a flurry of political commentators began calling for Mahathir to make way for PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, as agreed by Pakatan Harapan before the 2018 general election.
The gathering is part of a continuing behind-the-scenes struggle between Mahathir and Anwar, and between Anwar and Azmin.
Mahathir has been vague when he would hand over power to Anwar, as agreed before the 2018 general election, while Anwar has maintained that he would take over within the two years of Pakatan Harapan gaining control of the federal government.
Azmin, who has been at odds with Anwar, has been seen to be favoured by Mahathir, who chose him to be Economic Affairs Minister while he was menteri besar of Selangor. Azmin has also made several statements in the past months urging Mahathir to remain at the helm through Pakatan Harapan’s full five-year mandate.
Pressure on Mahathir to hand over power stepped up immediately after the Tanjung Piai by-election results were announced on Saturday, with the flurry of political commentators laying the blame for the defeat squarely on Mahathir’s lap.
According to political blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, a group of pro-Anwar supporters met on Friday night, the eve of the by-election, to discuss efforts to force Mahathir out.
He said: “Let us see whether these 30 Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament will agree to support Mahathir against Anwar in the Mahathir-Anwar power-struggle for the post of Prime Minister of Malaysia”.
FMT is seeking confirmation and further information from Azmin’s camp.