‘Unrealistic demands’ by Umno scuttled new coalition plan?

Umno and PAS leaders join PKR’s Mohamed Azmin Ali for dinner at Sheraton PJ last night. From left are Shahidan Kassim, Zuraida Kamarudin, Hishammuddin Hussein, Azmin, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Abdul Hadi Awang.

PETALING JAYA: The much anticipated announcement of a new coalition made up by MPs in Umno and PAS last night did not take place due to demands by Umno that Pakatan Harapan leaders felt were “too much”, FMT has learned through a source who has been closely following private meetings between political leaders since yesterday.

“They (Umno leaders) were asking too much, so the talks were halted temporarily. So no announcements were made,” he told FMT, even as speculations continued over attempts by PPBM and leaders aligned to Mohamed Azmin Ali to ditch factions in Pakatan Harapan who want Anwar Ibrahim to take over as prime minister.

It is understood that among others, Umno leaders had wanted party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as well as Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor to be appointed to the top positions of the planned new coalition.

“Their requests were immediately rejected,” he added.

The source also claimed that Umno proposed former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein to be made a deputy prime minister.

He said that during the discussions, the name of Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan was also mentioned to be part of a new Cabinet.

“Dr Mahathir Mohamad is aware that Tok Mat is well liked by all races and is more diplomatic, but may not appoint him as he did not win a parliamentary seat in the last general election,” said the source.

The source also said concerns over the future make-up of state governments held by Pakatan Harapan were also discussed.

“It is status quo for all states, even if a new coalition is formed, except for Selangor and Penang, which would fall to the opposition if not enough members from PH join the new coalition.”

Any new coalition could see the coming together of Malay-based parties PPBM, Umno and PAS, alongside some PKR members aligned to Azmin.

The source said discussions are still “ongoing” over a “new line-up”, adding that 124 MPs had already pledged their support for a new coalition.

“At least 10 MPs from Amanah and DAP are fence-sitters,” the source added.

The Klang Valley was abuzz yesterday with talk of Mahathir behind a move to form a new coalition comprising Umno and PAS.

The move could spell the end of DAP in federal power, while blocking the promised succession plan in which PKR president Anwar will take over from Mahathir.

At press time, Anwar, accompanied by his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and fellow PH leaders Lim Guan Eng and Mohamad Sabu, had just met Mahathir at the latter’s private residence in Seri Kembangan.

It is believed that the Prime Minister’s Office has cancelled all official meetings.

The latest moves come days 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.

The same source also told FMT that “a deep tension” was already taking shape during the late night meeting, which was to have fixed a date for Mahathir’s departure.

“At the meeting, some of them pushed Mahathir too hard. But Mahathir was adamant that he would give up his position after the Apec meeting,” he said, referring to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit to be held in Kuala Lumpur in November.

“Anwar said ‘okay’ but some leaders from Amanah ‘cornered’ Mahathir,” he added.

The source also spoke of how some PH leaders suggested that Anwar be made the deputy prime minister, or at least be included into the Cabinet.

“But no minister who was present in the meeting offered their seat.

“Yet, some were impatient and just continued pushing for Anwar to be the next prime minister.”

Additional reporting by Minderjeet Kaur.