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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mahathir, Anwar move to cool tensions within ruling alliance!

  • The four-party alliance scored a historic victory in Wednesday's general election over the long-ruling Barisan Nasional government.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and jailed politician Anwar Ibrahim tried to ease a rift within the ruling alliance on Sunday after differences erupted between their supporters over cabinet positions.The four-party alliance scored a historic victory in Wednesday's general election over the long-ruling Barisan Nasional government, but the emergence of a rift so soon is raising questions about the unity of what was always an unlikely coalition.

In a statement from his hospital bed, Anwar said he had told members of his People's Justice Party (PKR) to ensure that Mahathir's government "remains strong and stable".

But he also said that, in a conversation with Mahathir, he had raised PKR's demand for "more inclusive negotiation", a reference to the formation of the cabinet.

Mahathir said in a telecast on state TV that "at the beginning, we shouldn't look at proportion" in the cabinet. "It will be made up when we make up the rest of the cabinet," he said. "Surely there will be some conflict in need and wants of each party. This will be determined by the prime minister."

Mahathir is the alliance leader and Anwar's PKR has the majority of seats in parliament won by the group. The volatile relationship between the two, from friends to foes to allies, has dominated Malaysia's political landscape for over three decades and is central to the future of the alliance.

Mahathir announced just three ministers on Saturday, to join himself and Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Anwar's wife, in the cabinet. He was to announce 10, and sources within the alliance said there was no agreement on the others.

The sources declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. Wan Azizah did not attend the news conference to announce the new ministers because of the disagreements, said one source in the alliance. Mahathir then visited Anwar in the hospital where he is recovering from a shoulder operation and the atmosphere was frosty, said another source who was present. The source said Mahathir and Anwar are scheduled to meet again on Sunday.

No need for GST now, says premier

Malaysia's newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Sunday the country has sufficient revenue to remove the unpopular goods and services tax (GST), state news agency Bernama reported.

The new government vowed to abolish the consumption tax within the first 100 days of being in power.

Speaking during his address to the nation, the new premier discussed various topics, from the new government's focus on rooting out corruption to relooking a law against "fake news".

Mahathir, however, did not elaborate on his remakrs about the government's fiscal position, but his comments are at odds with his previous assertions.

Mahathir said the new government would welcome investment and the system of governance will be more open.

The new prime minister said that there are "too many restrictions" that prevent businesses from operating freely in Malaysia, and pledged to examine the issue.

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