Malaysian Islamist party did not issue statement 'announcing leader as next PM'

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

An Islamist opposition party in Malaysia has dismissed a false statement shared repeatedly on Facebook and Twitter that apparently announced its leader would replace Anwar Ibrahim as the Southeast Asian country's prime minister. The posts circulated online following speculation that opposition parties were attempting to topple Anwar's government. As of May 25, 2023, Anwar remained Malaysia's prime minister.

The forged Malay-language media statement was shared here on Facebook on May 6, 2023.

It features the letterhead and logo for Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, a Malaysian Islamist party also known as PAS (archived link).

The post's Malay-language caption translates to English as: "PAS has enough numbers? / Congratulations Hadi Awang / Our incoming Prime Minister."


"PAS would like to inform you that it has been accepted for an audience with His Majesty the King tomorrow to submit affidavits from 115 Members of Parliament in order to support Abdul Hadi Awang, Member of Parliament for Marang, as the Prime Minister of Malaysia."

Abdul Hadi Awang is the president of PAS and a member of parliament for Marang, a district in Malaysia's Terengganu state (archived links here and here).

The purported statement -- dated May 4, 2023 -- included the name of the opposition party's secretary-general, Takiyuddin Hassan (archived link).

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on May 17, 2023

The same statement was also shared here and here on Facebook alongside a picture of Abdul Hadi, congratulating him on becoming the "11th Malaysian prime minister".

The same picture of Abdul Hadi was also shared on Twitter here and here.

The claim circulated following rumours in early May 2023 that opposition parties were attempting to topple Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's government (archived link).

In response, Anwar described those trying to topple the government as "daydreamers" (archived link).

In March 2023, Abdul Hadi said that the opposition coalition retains a "right to plan" to topple the government, either through "the no-vote confidence, statutory declarations and supporters withdrawing their support" (archived link).

However, the claim is false.

Fabricated statement

On May 4, 2023, PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin said on his Facebook page his party had not issued the false statement (archived link).

"The media statement titled 'Support for Abdul Hadi Awang, Member of Parliament for Marang as Prime Minister of Malaysia' which is currently going viral is false and has nothing to do with any of the parties mentioned," reads the caption.

It includes the screengrab of the misleading post, with a red stamp that reads: "FAKE" in Malay.

PAS also posted the same image and caption on its official Facebook page on the same day (archived link).

Current government

As of May 25, 2023, Anwar remained prime minister, having taken office in November 2022 (archived links here and here).

In Malaysia, if opposition parties want to replace the prime minister, they can file a motion of no-confidence while parliament is sitting (archived link). The current parliamentary session began on May 22, 2023.

Parties must then seek an audience with the king in a bid to prove they have secured a majority to form a new government. They must then await the king's decision before making any announcement about a change in prime minister (archived link).

Professor Sivamurugan Pandian, a political analyst at Universiti Sains Malaysia, told AFP that Anwar remained in a strong condition to finish his first five-year term as prime minister (archived link).

"Anwar can complete the first term unless continuous efforts are being made to overthrow the government despite the Anti-Hopping Law, which is meant to bind the people’s representatives (members of parliament)," he said (archived link).

A by-election will be held in event that a member of parliament quits or defects to another party (archived link).

The Anti-Hopping Law, which came to effect in October 2022, would prevent elected members of parliament from crossing over to another political party after winning a seat.

However, it still allows political parties to switch coalitions -- a move that happened in 2020, leading to the collapse of then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's government (archived link).