A junior partner in Malaysia’s ruling alliance exited the government Sunday to protest the prosecutor’s decision to drop graft charges against a key ally of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
(Bloomberg) — A junior partner in Malaysia’s ruling alliance exited the government Sunday to protest the prosecutor’s decision to drop graft charges against a key ally of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
The move by Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, the sole lawmaker representing Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) party, came after a court this month discharged Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi from facing money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption charges on the request of the prosecution team.
Syed Saddiq said discontinuing the four-year trial against Zahid “was the beginning of normalizing corruption.” Anwar has repeatedly denied interfering in what he called was the attorney-general’s decision, while the AG said the charges were dropped pending further investigations.
Even without MUDA’s support, Anwar has a comfortable majority in parliament to stay on as prime minister, and his Cabinet remains intact. Syed Saddiq’s party said it would continue supporting the government’s reform efforts from the opposition bench when a super-majority is needed to pass such legislation, according to a statement Sunday.
The party’s exit from the ruling coalition highlights Anwar’s dilemma: his decision to welcome Zahid as an ally when the latter was still facing graft charges had already upset longtime supporters, yet he needs the backing of the party Zahid leads to ensure majority in parliament.
Zahid, who heads the former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional, was key in ensuring support of the group’s 30 seats in parliament for Anwar, helping to form the unity government after the November general election resulted in a hung parliament. BN’s traditional allies from Borneo quickly followed suit to support Anwar.
Other allies of the ruling bloc appear unlikely to follow MUDA’s footsteps. Democratic Action Party Secretary-General Anthony Loke earlier Sunday reminded Syed Saddiq that he had the responsibility of supporting the government as he won last November’s election thanks to an electoral pact.
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