Thursday, 23 September, 2021
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Malaysian PM set to ‘resign’ today

Malaysian PM set to ‘resign’ today

KUALA LUMPUR: Mal-aysia’s embattled leader will offer his resignation to the king on Monday, a minister said, potentially spelling an end to his 17-month-old government and plunging the country into fresh turmoil, reports AFP.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has faced mounting pressure to step aside after losing his parliamentary majority, and over his administration’s handling of a worsening coronavirus outbreak.

He made a last-ditch attempt to cling to power Friday by urging opposition MPs to support him in exchange for institutional reforms—but his offer was rejected. Minister Mohamad Redzuan Yusof told AFP that Muhyiddin informed lawmakers from his party during a meeting in Kuala Lumpur Sunday that he would tender his resignation.

“He will hold a final cabinet meeting on Monday, then he will head to the palace to submit his resignation letter,” said the minister in the prime minister’s department.

“We did try to convince him to stay on, but he said: ‘We do not have the number of MPs.’”

Muhyiddin told the meeting it would be up to the king—who has publicly criticised his government—to accept his resignation or not, the minister added.

Malaysia’s constitutional monarch formally appoints the candidate whom he believes commands majority support in parliament as premier.

There has been speculation that, should he step down, a new government will be formed without elections due to concerns that polls could worsen the virus outbreak.

But, with no clear successor as prime minister, there are likely to be days of political horse-trading ahead as MPs seek to form a workable coalition.

Muhyiddin came to power in March last year without an election at the head of a scandal-plagued coalition following the collapse of a two-year-old, reformist government led by Mahathir Mohamad.

But his government was beset by turmoil from day one—it had weak parliamentary support, its legitimacy was constantly questioned, and Muhyiddin faced a serious challenge from opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim.

Pressure mounted after a group of MPs from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the biggest party backing Muhyiddin, publicly withdrew support.

The leader claimed some among them were angered because he refused to use his position to influence corruption cases against them.

This includes former prime minister Najib Razak, who was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in jail last year over the multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal. He is free on bail while appealing.

James Chin, a Malaysia expert from the University of Tasmania, warned a change of government could impact their cases.

“Najib and others facing corruption charges will not face any time in jail as long as UMNO are in the new government,” he said.