Speculation is rife in Malaysia of an impending political crisis after reports of a meeting between powerful Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali with a group of Barisan Nasional MPs.
Some portals are saying there were 22 Umno members in the meeting and they were led by Hishamuddin Hussein, former Defence Minister and cousin of ex-PM Najib Razak.
But according to a prominent blogger, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, there were 30 Barisan MPs at the meeting in Putrajaya last night.
While RPK is speculating that the 30 MPs may join forces with a group of MPs from the Pakatan Harapan government, the aim he says is to keep Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in power.
The meeting came after the massive defeat in the Tanjung Piai by-election in which Dr Mahathir campaigned daily.
This is said to be the biggest party defeat for the elderly statesman. Local news portals also reported on the meeting. The gathering also said to be “just a dinner meeting”, according to Free Malaysia Today saw Umno vice-president Hishamuddin and about two dozen others from the BN converging towards Azmin’s house.
A pro-Anwar Ibrahim group known as the Otai Reformasi is said to be canvassing MPs for an early exit of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir.
They want an early handover of power to Anwar. Azmin’s ally, PKR vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin, who is housing minister, and party colleague Kamaruddin Jaafar, MP for Bandar Tun Razak and deputy transport minister, were among those seen leaving the house later in the night, says FMT.
Malaysiakini says the meeting began at around 9.30 pm and lasted for about two hours and 22 BN MPs were present in the ‘dinner’ with at least five PKR MPs-Ministers. Azmin’s bungalow, says Malaysiakini, sits by the Putrajaya Lake with a view of the Seri Perdana Complex – the prime minister’s official residence.
In a message to the media, Umno supreme council member Lokman Noor Adam condemned the meeting calling it a betrayal of the party by Hishamuddin.
“Hishammuddin has once again betrayed Malaysians, particularly the voters of Tanjung Piai who two (three) days ago put their faith in the BN candidate to win the seat. “What is his excuse when he led 22 BN MPs to Azmin’s house in Putrajaya?
“Even though not all 22 MPs support (Prime Minister) Dr Mahathir Mohamad, would not the BN and PAS machinery, which worked hard in Tanjung Piai, be disappointed by his betrayal?” Lokman asked in the statement.
Dr M’s Response
Responding to media queries on the matter, Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he “heard” of last night’s meeting between Azmin Ali and a group of Barisan Nasional MPs, although he is in the dark about what was discussed.
“I heard about it. I don’t know what they talked about,” he told reporters after launching the International Palm Oil Congress and Exhibition 2019. -/TISG