KUALA LUMPUR - Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Jugah Muyang left Malaysia's opposition Friday (June 5) to support Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, bolstering the ruling coalition's numbers in a see-saw battle for Parliamentary majority with former premier Mahathir Mohamad.
This comes after Deputy Works Minister Shahruddin Salleh quit the government on Thursday, and appeared to signal his support for Tun Dr Mahathir.
Mr Jugah's decision means that Tan Sri Muhyiddin now has the backing of at least 113 MPs of the country's 222 federal lawmakers, and comes hours after Special Functions Minister Redzuan Yusof denied rumours that he was set to leave Perikatan Nasional (PN), Mr Muhyiddin's ruling pact .
"I discussed with my supporters and they agreed that I support the PN government for the good and development of Lubok Antu," Mr Jugah said in a statement.
He explained that he had joined PKR after the May 2018 election as his constituency in rural Sarawak badly needed government support.
PKR is part of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, which had won the general election in May 2018. It was ousted in February after losing its majority in Parliament.
Dr Mahathir, who had helmed the PH government before its ouster, has repeatedly claimed that Mr Muhyiddin does not have the necessary support to govern and has sought a motion of no confidence against him.
Under PN, parliamentary debates in March and May have so far been postponed, leaving the Muhyiddin administration's majority untested.
Mr Muhyiddin, who is president of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, was sworn in as premier on March 1 after a week-long political crisis sparked by Bersatu's departure from PH and Dr Mahathir's resignation as prime minister.
Both men are understood to be pursuing lawmakers to defect to their respective camps so that they can garner a comfortable majority and avoid the possibility of a snap election being called.
However, Dr Mahathir admitted earlier Friday that "the numbers keep appearing and disappearing".
"I don't think there will be very many more (who will leave PN). They are all thinking about their personal wellbeing. They are not going to give up on their good pay. Because of that, many are not crossing over," he told a press conference.
In recent weeks, speculation that Dr Mahathir has cobbled together the support of up to 130 MPs has gone viral on social media. However, supporters of PKR president Anwar Ibrahim have also staked his claim to the top job.