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Malaysia’s Anwar says he is facing ‘malicious’ probe

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Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Friday said a police investigation into a list that purports to show lawmakers backing his bid for the premiership was a “malicious” attempt to pressure him into revealing the identities of his supporters.

Police summoned Anwar to assist with a probe into the distribution of a list of 121 lawmakers who allegedly back his bid to take over as prime minister from Muhyiddin Yassin. The list has been circulated on social media.

Anwar, who spent about two hours giving a statement to investigators, said only the king had the right to know the full details of lawmakers who he says are backing him to give majority support in parliament.

“I’m not here to cooperate with the political masters to give names, because it is not their business. It’s between me and His Highness, the Agong,” Anwar told reporters outside Bukit Aman police headquarters, using the Malay term for the king.

“It’s clearly malicious. It’s clearly a political harassment and clearly from my understanding there is a political instruction to the police.”

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Friday he doubted whether opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had the numbers in parliament to take the premiership and even if he did the country would remain in political deadlock.

Anwar met the king on Tuesday in a bid to prove he has a parliamentary majority to form government and take over from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Mahathir, who mentored Anwar and many of the country’s top leaders, said even with new leadership Malaysia would remain susceptible to shifting political alliances, particularly by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) former ruling party.

“So the situation is very uncertain … either way, there is going to be a situation where there is no government in the country,” Mahathir told Reuters in an interview at his office in Kuala Lumpur.

Mahathir, with Anwar’s backing, steered the opposition to a historic win in the 2018 election, ending six decades of rule by UMNO with a campaign against corruption.

But his administration collapsed after a bout of in-fighting earlier this year, paving the way for Muhyiddin to take the post in March with the backing of UMNO.

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