The move on Sunday by Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, the sole lawmaker representing the 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 normalising corruption”. Anwar has repeatedly denied interfering in what he has called the attorney general’s decision. The attorney general said the charges were dropped pending further investigations.

Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman gives an interview in Petaling Jaya in 2020. His Malaysian United Democratic Alliance is no longer part of Anwar’s ruling coalition. Photo: Reuters

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 supermajority is needed to pass such legislation, according to a statement on 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 corruption charges had already upset long-time supporters, yet he needs the backing of the party Zahid leads to ensure majority in parliament.

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Zahid, who heads the former ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, 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. Barisan Nasional’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 on Sunday reminded Syed Saddiq that he had the responsibility of supporting the government as he won November’s general election thanks to an electoral pact.