Although Anwar Ibrahim is the undisputed opposition leader, Warisan president Shafie Apdal’s name has been thrown into the mix as a possible prime minister candidate following Muhyiddin Yassin’s resignation this afternoon.
Some MPs told FMT they have been contacted to back Shafie as a PM candidate, and one East Malaysian MP who declined to be named said there was indeed a push for the former Sabah chief minister to be named as the opposition’s alternative candidate.
“There are 105 opposition MPs. This is the baseline, assuming the opposition moves as one bloc and I am told that even within Pakatan Harapan (PH) not everyone is convinced about just having one candidate.
“The magic number is 111 but there are doubts over whether Anwar can secure that number.
“Shafie might be able to because he is seen as a more ‘amicable’ candidate than Anwar, particularly to ex-PKR and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs.”
The MP said it was more likely for Shafie to secure support from Sarawak because of the prospect of a prime minister from Borneo who will be more likely to deliver on the promises of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
Earlier today, several MPs told FMT they had received calls from various parties seeking support for their prime ministerial candidate.
This came after Muhyiddin resigned as prime minister, some 17 months after being named to the post. He will serve as caretaker prime minister until a new prime minister is appointed.
However, one PH MP who spoke on condition of anonymity said as far as the coalition’s MPs know, Anwar was the only candidate.
The MP voiced doubts that Shafie and Warisan would be able to convince the opposition of his candidacy.
“It’s a small party. They only have eight MPs and Shafie does not have the clout at the national level. He’s a state player.
“It would be like PAS wanting to have the PM’s post when Umno has the numbers.”
He said both Anwar and Shafie’s names have been bandied about among opposition MPs but the idea is for the two leaders to cooperate with each other under the big opposition tent rather than compete for the PM’s post.
The MP said the reality is that no party has the numbers to form the government and a unity government is the most likely solution to the current political impasse.
PKR’s Sungai Petani MP Johari Abdul said that as far as he was aware, the opposition’s only candidate is Anwar and that he has not heard of any proposal involving Shafie.
Meanwhile, a source in the know said some in the DAP were still sore that Anwar had not taken up Muhyiddin’s proposal for reforms and a more inclusive administration in exchange for support in the parliamentary confidence vote that was supposed to be held in September.
“Their rationale is that had Anwar agreed, PH would essentially be back in power and (be) kingmakers, while Anwar could even be deputy prime minister, on top of the reforms that would have been achieved.”