Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has said that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government remains strong and that he is the legitimate Prime Minister, following claims by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that he had secured majority parliamentary support to form a new government.
He declined to release numbers supporting him, but said he would do so after seeking an audience with Raja, who is now being treated at the National Heart Hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
Anwar wouldn't say how many lawmakers his government would command, but said it was "convincing". "I'm not talking about a majority of four or five or six - it's more than that", he said.
Speaking at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, veteran politician Anwar - who has long sought to become prime minister - said he now had the backing of enough MPs to form the government and oust Muhyiddin.
Anwar said a number of MPs had "expressed their deep dissatisfaction with the current leadership".
But Muhyiddin's position has remained precarious with a single digit majority in parliament, while UMNO withdrew some of its backing after former leader and former Prime Minister Najib Razak was found guilty of corruption in the multi-billion 1MDB scandal.
Muhyiddin, whose seven-month-old coalition has survived on a razor-thin majority, dismissed Anwar's claims as a "mere allegation", telling him to prove his majority through a constitutional process.
Sitting next to his wife, Anwar told a news conference his support from lawmakers "means that the administration of Muhyiddin has fallen" and insisted that his government had the mandate of the people.
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He also said he has the support of some lawmakers from Muhyiddin's coalition and that he was open to working with the premier. The new government, he said, will represent "all people, from Malays and Bumiputeras to others" and hold firm to the principles of the Federal Constitution.
Muhyiddin has been grappling to maintain support amid infighting in his coalition that has just a slim two-seat majority.
Representatives for Malaysia's biggest Malay parties, including the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Islamist party PAS and Mahathir's party, did not immediately response to requests for comment.
Scenario A: Muhyiddin requests that Parliament be dissolved and the Agong grants the request.
Mahathir, whose past feud with Anwar charted the course of Malaysian politics over the past 20 years, said he will "wait to see if this is another episode of making claims that can not be substantiated", the Edge newspaper reported. His opponents have accused him of grabbing power by shifting alliances instead of earning it at the ballot box.
Mahathir, now 95, became prime minister for a second time and Anwar was released from jail, where he had been serving a sentence after being convicted of dubious sodomy charges.
73-year-old Anwar Ibrahim has had a tumultuous career, during which he spent nearly 10 years in jail.