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ASIA

Malaysia's government is poised to seal a confidence-and-supply agreement with the opposition, just days after Prime Minister Ismail Sabri outlined plans of a sweeping reform of the federal administration.

  • Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and leaders of the main opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance issued a statement over the weekend, noting that they have concluded negotiations and are set to unveil a memorandum of understanding regulating the terms of their cooperation. The Premier and several opposition lawmakers will ink the deal at 17:00 MYT/10:00 BST at the Parliament banquet hall today.
  • Straits Times sources said that the deal "will see PH's 89 MPs abstain or support supply Bills and motions whose failure will be understood as a loss of confidence for the government". One anonymous PH leader told the newspaper that "if we are genuinely consulted on next year's budget, then there will be support, otherwise, it will just be abstention".
  • The deal comes on the back of a major administration reform plan outlined by the Premier last Friday. The proposed rules include a party-hopping ban, 10-year term limit for the Prime Minister and lowering the voting age. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim welcomed Ismail Sabri's reform package but said the Cabinet still needs to be legitimised by a vote of confidence in parliament.
  • In a separate article, the Straits Times reported that Ismail Sabri is set to offer a ministerial role to former Premier and senior UMNO lawmaker Najib Razak, who would serve as an adviser on the economy. Najib is part of the so called "court cluster," a group of UMNO leaders facing corruption charges. He still wields considerable influence within the party and together with UMNO President Zahid played a vital role in unseating Ismail Sabri's predecessor Muhyiddin.
  • Ismail Sabri inherited a government backed by just 114 out of 220 members of the Dewan Rakyat (mind that two seats are vacant). The Muhyiddin Cabinet collapsed when the "court cluster" convinced several UMNO MPs to withdraw their support. By extending olive branches to the opposition and a rival faction within UMNO, Ismail Sabri can bolster the stability of his government even if the ruling coalition still commands only a thin majority in parliament.

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