Movements at Istana Negara ahead of Dr M’s expected audience with king

Vehicles seen entering Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur in anticipation of Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s audience with the Agong.

KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad is expected to arrive at Istana Negara this evening to seek an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to inform the king of a change in his ruling coalition.

Dozens of vehicles escorted by police were seen entering the palace compound here at 5.30pm, as hordes of reporters gathered outside the main gate.

Mahathir’s visit will be the second time he has gone to Istana Negara for the formation of a new federal government, after he famously waited for hours in May 2018 to be sworn in as the country’s seventh prime minister.

At press time, Mahathir has returned to his private residence in Seri Kembangan.

Reports have said that Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had flown in by helicopter, arriving at the national palace at 4.30pm.

Meanwhile, at Umno headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, FMT was told that party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had left a Supreme Council meeting and was headed for Istana Negara.

Since morning, Klang Valley has been abuzz with talk of Mahathir leading a political coup to expel DAP from the Pakatan Harapan coalition, which came to power after the historic 2018 elections.

This morning, PPBM top leaders held a meeting at its headquarters in Yayasan Selangor, Petaling Jaya, while supporters of PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali held a separate meeting at the nearby PJ Sheraton hotel.

FMT had earlier reported that Mahathir is expected to join Azmin at the hotel later today. It is understood that a press conference will be held tonight.

A political change in Putrajaya would effectively end DAP’s involvement in the federal government, with Malay-based parties playing a dominant role under a new coalition.

FMT was earlier informed by reliable sources that several ministers had cleared their official schedules for the coming week, while others had tidied up their desks in anticipation of being dropped or transferred to another portfolio.

FMT cannot independently verify the claim. Repeated calls to key DAP leaders, including secretary-general and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng were 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 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.

With additional reporting by Ainaa Aiman at Istana Negara, Minderjeet Kaur in Seri Kembangan and Adam Abu Bakar at PWTC, Kuala Lumpur.