Ministers clear desks, palace audience planned as Putrajaya braces for ‘change’

Discussions by political leaders in Petaling Jaya are being closely watched amid expectations of a political realignment in Putrajaya today.

PETALING JAYA: Some ministers have cleared their official schedules for the coming week, while others have tidied up their desks in their respective ministries in anticipation of a major Cabinet reshuffle, as rumours swirl of a political realignment which will see friends and foes forming a new ruling coalition.

Sources who have been in touch with FMT on the latest developments in Petaling Jaya – where PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad and PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali are attending separate meetings with their party leaders – are also not ruling out a major announcement late today.

Another source told FMT there are plans by Mahathir to seek an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to inform him of the new political composition in the government.

FMT cannot independently verify the claim, but is checking with palace officials.

This morning, Azmin and some nine PKR leaders and MPs aligned to him arrived at the Petaling Jaya Sheraton hotel. Separately, PPBM top leaders met at the party’s headquarters at Yayasan Selangor, just a few minutes away.

It is understood that the PPBM leaders including Mahathir would later join Azmin and others at the Sheraton for an “important announcement”.

The Petaling Jaya Sheraton hotel where PPBM leaders led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad are expected to join Azmin Ali for an ‘important announcement’ later today.

“That’s where it all started, and probably where it will end,” quipped the source.

There is strict security at the entrance of the hotel, where Pakatan Harapan leaders had holed up in the early hours of May 10 two years ago following their general election victory.

The announcement could effectively see DAP losing its federal power, with Malay-based parties playing a dominant role under a new coalition.

But any change at the federal level will have repercussions at the state level.

The federal PH coalition comprising PPBM, PKR, DAP and Amanah is currently reflected in all state governments, except in Perlis, Pahang, Kelantan, Terengganu, Sarawak and Sabah, where PH parties PPBM and DAP are partners in a coalition government led by Warisan.

A source said the need to “adjust” these state governments is on the agenda in today’s meetings.

The same source said discussions are underway to retain power in states where PH has been ruling with a slim majority.

FMT’s attempts for a response from DAP leaders have failed with repeated calls not answered.

Tension has been building in Pakatan Harapan, as PKR, DAP and Amanah leaders stepped up pressure on Mahathir to fix a date for handing over power to PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.

Today’s development comes less than 48 hours after a midnight press conference on Friday, in which a visibly stern Mahathir declared that he was still in charge, and that PH partners had given him the trust to remain as prime minister for as long as he wanted.

Last month, FMT reported that private meetings between Mahathir and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang might foreshadow the realignment of political power in Putrajaya, a move that might sideline DAP, and more specifically, thwart Anwar’s prime ministerial ambitions.

The new alignment would bring together forces aligned to Mahathir with the clout that PAS holds in the northern Malay heartland.

Earlier this month, Umno Supreme Council member Lokman Noor Adam raised the possibility of a new coalition called “Pakatan Nasional” taking shape.

PH was formed in 2015 by PKR, DAP and Amanah following the break-up of Pakatan Rakyat, which previously united then opposition parties PAS, PKR and DAP.

In 2016, the coalition got its fourth partner, PPBM, formed by Mahathir after a split in Umno. The grouping proved effective in mobilising public support in the wake of public disenchantment with the Najib administration over the 1MDB scandal, culminating in the historic defeat of Barisan Nasional in the 2018 elections.