KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) vice-president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali today sidestepped questions about his reported nomination as his party’s deputy prime minister candidate.

The Star reported the International Trade and Industry (Miti) minister had instead responded by talking about the government’s commitment for the nation’s economic recovery and Covid-19 pandemic management.

“I would like to remind you that the present government is a coalition government and not just based on one party, and Perikatan Nasional is one of the biggest components of it.

“So when my colleagues and I stress that we are responsible to strengthen the government, it means we want it to make it stronger.

“If we are weak, the government will be weak.

“So it is my responsibility to ensure that the current government remains strong,” he was quoted telling reporters, when met at the Malaysian Agriculture, Horticulture and Agro-tourism Exhibition (Maha) 2022.

Malaysiakini yesterday quoted an unnamed Bersatu source saying Azmin is Bersatu’s only nominee for the role.

However, the source reportedly said that Putrajaya would find Azmin’s nomination difficult to accept.

“Azmin is the only candidate nominated by Bersatu for that post. I’m made to understand that the president (Muhyiddin) has informed Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob of this.

“However, it has been stalled since we couldn’t meet the prime minister,” the source told the news portal.

Last week, The Star reported that the Bersatu-led Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition might pull its support for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, which could trigger the collapse of the federal government.

Citing unnamed sources, The Star reported that PN, which jointly forms the government with the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, is upset that its scheduled meeting with Ismail Sabri yesterday was abruptly cancelled the night before by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The daily reported a Bersatu insider saying the meeting was to press Ismail Sabri to appoint a deputy prime minister from its party as part of the deal signed in August last year with its president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The PN delegation was to comprise Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin and Azmin from Bersatu and Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan and Datuk Seri Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar from PAS.

Hamzah, who is both PN and Bersatu secretary-general, had issued a brief statement after the PN meeting, expressing disappointment at the PM’s “lack of determination and commitment” to fulfil the terms of the agreement.

Other purported terms and conditions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) supposedly requires Ismail Sabri to consult the Bersatu leadership before dissolving Parliament.

It is learnt that the Bersatu supreme council that had met recently was generally in favour of withdrawing support for Ismail Sabri, but the final decision would be made with its coalition partners.