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Malaysian DPM alleges ‘Dubai Move’ to topple incumbent government; opposition denies involvement

Speculation in Malaysian politics suggests meetings in Dubai involving politicians, including ‘Tun’-titled veterans and a former Prime Minister, to overthrow PM Anwar Ibrahim’s government.

Opposition leaders dismiss these claims, branding the ‘Dubai Move’ as government-made fabrication

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MALAYSIA: A rumour circulating in Malaysian political circles suggests another attempt to overthrow the current government known as the “Dubai Move.”

On Tuesday (2nd January), Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi informed the media that while there had been much discussion about a plot to remove the government, it ultimately failed to achieve its objectives.

However, opposition leaders have refuted these claims, asserting that the so-called “Dubai Move” was fabricated by the government itself.

The alleged plan to topple the government gained attention among the public after an interview by Deputy Director-General of the Community Communications Department (J-Kom), Datuk Ismail Yusop, in a Malay daily on 30th December.

During the interview, he revealed details of an alleged scheme orchestrated by opposition coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN) leaders and government members while on vacation in Dubai.

He claimed that the meeting aimed to negotiate and assign specific tasks to individuals responsible for identifying Members of Parliament (MPs) potentially swayed to the opposition through inducements, aiming solely to establish a ‘breakthrough’ government.

Alongside PN leaders, he alleged the involvement of influential veteran political figures, some holding the title of Tun, colluding with the opposition and purportedly using ‘foreign sources’ to overthrow the administration led by Anwar Ibrahim.

He further alleged the involvement of former prime ministers, finance ministers, and their allies, utilizing both domestic and foreign resources in planning these activities.

“It is said that spokespersons with access to the opposition’s leadership are roaming across the country, including Sabah and Sarawak, attempting to convince that by early 2024, the MADANI Government will collapse, with a set date and deadline,” he said.

The rumour pointed to Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the 9th PM and former vice president of UMNO, as allegedly involved in the plot.

When contacted by Malaysian media outlet Malaysiakini, Ismail Sabri rejected the claims and denounced attempts to associate him with the movement as slander.

“I don’t know whether or not there is such a step (Dubai step). (Because) I am not involved and I did not go to Dubai.”

“I was in Mecca and Medina with my family performing Umrah,” he said.

Ismail Sabri’s special officer, Affifi Aris, verified that his boss had directly boarded a flight back to Malaysia on 31 December without making any stops in Dubai.

PM Anwar urges priority on work amidst rumored ‘Dubai Move’

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim responded to the rumours by emphasizing the importance of focusing on work rather than getting caught up in alleged schemes.

“In regards to the Dubai Move, our focus remains on our work. While it might be the work of the Opposition, it does not affect us,” Anwar told reporters.

“Our priority is the country’s development and the welfare of our people.”

Deputy Prime Minister Zahid, also the Umno president, dismissed attempts to undermine the government through covert means.

He pointed out the failures of previous attempts, emphasizing that such backdoor manoeuvres were no longer feasible due to the anti-hopping law.

“The Dubai Move or similar attempts would only be viable if an entire party collectively decides to switch allegiances. Relying solely on statutory declarations won’t suffice anymore,” Zahid clarified.

Opposition leaders refute “Dubai Move” allegation

In response to Zahid’s acknowledgement of the plot, PAS deputy president Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man claimed that the Dubai Move was fabricated by ruling MPs and might ultimately backfire on them.

“This concocted Dubai Move has become a concern for those who initially propagated it. When five Perikatan MPs recently shifted their support to PM Anwar Ibrahim, the government clarified that their actions did not breach anti-defection laws,” Tuan Ibrahim noted.

“If the government permits Opposition MPs to support the Madani government without consequences, then MPs from the ruling parties supporting the Opposition shouldn’t be deemed unlawful,” he argued.

“If that is the case, then government MPs pledging their support for the Opposition too will not be breaking any laws,” he said.

Tuan Ibrahim criticized excessive monitoring of MPs, suggesting that a government with a legitimate two-thirds majority wouldn’t need such measures.

He also recalled Anwar’s previous “Sept 16 Move” in 2008, where an alleged attempt to take over the government was thwarted by relocating Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs to Taiwan.

“The ‘Taiwan Move’ countered the ‘Sept 16 Move.’ It’s intriguing to ponder what other manoeuvres this government might devise,” he remarked, referencing historical political events.

Pakatan Harapan government overthrown in February 2020 through “Sheraton Move”

Malaysia has been embroiled in political turmoil for the past four years, culminating in the infamous “Sheraton Move” in 2020 that led to the downfall of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government – which ended Barisan Nasional’s (BN) dominance in Malaysia that had lasted for over half a century.

Following the “Sheraton Move” in 2020, BERSATU departed from the PH coalition and joined forces with BN and PAS to form a new government coalition.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin then being appointed as the 8th Prime Minister.

Muhyiddin held the position for 17 months, his Perikatan Nasional coalition was a fragile alliance that held a slim majority in Parliament. Over time, several defections, resignations, and withdrawals of support from MPs weakened the government’s majority.

The government faced criticism over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite efforts to contain the virus, there were concerns about mismanagement, vaccine distribution issues, and economic hardships faced by citizens during the pandemic.

Amidst these challenges and growing pressure, Muhyiddin Yassin resigned as Prime Minister in August 2021 after losing the majority support in Parliament.

Then Ismail Sabri succeeded as 9th PM, following garnered majority support in Parliament.

In October 2022, UMNO President Zahid Hamidi faced criticism for advocating an election in November, despite the year-end being the monsoon season, typically associated with a spike in flood cases across Malaysia.

Ismail Sabri Yaakob potentially faced internal party pressure, leading to the announcement of the dissolution of the Malaysian Parliament on 10 October.

Following the conclusion of the Malaysia 15th General Election (GE15) in November 2022, Anwar Ibrahim’s PH coalition garnered 82 parliamentary seats while PN led by Muhyiddin Yassin won 73 seats.

BN suffered its worst electoral outcome in history, securing only 30 seats out of the 177 seats contested. UMNO won 26 out of 120 seats contested, while MCA gained only two seats out of 44 contested seats.

Neither PH nor PN holds enough seats to form a simple majority government.

UMNO, BN’s leading component party, unanimously decided to comply with the King’s order to support the unity government idea, which made the alliance between PH and BN possible.

The impasse of the hung parliament was resolved on 24 November when the Malaysia King announced that Anwar Ibrahim had gained enough support and was officially appointed as Malaysia’s 10th PM.

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