16.08.2021, 08:40

Malaysia Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to Resign Today

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will resign on Monday and pave the way for the country’s protracted political crisis to be resolved


“We just finished the meeting. Tomorrow, there will be a special cabinet meeting. After that, he will head to Istana Negara [National Palace] to submit his resignation,” Redzuan Yusof, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, told the Malaysiakini news portal.

Muhyiddin, 74, announced the decision to lawmakers during a meeting in his Perikatan Nasional alliance’s headquarters on Sunday, Redzuan said.



Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will tender his resignation on Aug 16, 2021. Photo: MUHYIDDIN YASSIN/FACEBOOK

The minister, a member of Muhyiddin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, made similar comments to The Malaysian Insight. He did not immediately respond to This Week in Asia’s queries.

Other Muhyiddin allies who attended Sunday’s meeting declined to confirm or deny Redzuan’s comments when contacted, according to SCMP.

Muhyiddin will submit his resignation to the king on Monday, according to Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof, a minister in the prime minister’s department, Malaysiakini reported on Sunday.

Malaysiakini quoted Mohd Redzuan as saying that Muhyiddin informed party members of his decision to resign after exhausting all other options to sustain the government.

Muhyiddin’s grip on power has been precarious since he took office in March 2020 with a slim majority. Pressure on him mounted recently after some lawmakers from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party — the largest bloc in the ruling alliance — withdrew support.

The premier had for weeks defied calls to quit and said he would prove his majority in parliament through a confidence vote in September.

But on Friday Muhyiddin admitted for the first time that he did not have a majority and made a last-ditch effort to woo the opposition by promising political and electoral reforms in exchange for support on the confidence vote. The offer was rejected unanimously.

The king has the constitutional power to appoint a prime minister from among elected lawmakers based on who he thinks can command a majority.

Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow with Singapore’s Institute of International Affairs, said the king could also appoint an interim premier until a permanent successor is found.

The premier would then have to face a confidence vote in parliament, he said.

What next in Malaysia's political crisis?

As reported by Reuters, the resignation, if confirmed, could end months of political turmoil facing the Southeast Asian nation, which is already battling record high COVID-19 infections and an economic downturn from multiple lockdowns.

But it is not clear who would form the next government as no party has a clear majority in parliament.

It would be up to the constitutional monarch, King Al-Sultan Abdullah, to decide what happens next.

Here are the possible scenarios:

Interim government

The king can appoint an interim premier from among lawmakers, including Muhyiddin himself, until a permanent successor is found.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy and the king has the power to appoint as prime minister a lawmaker whom he believes can command a majority.

Elections

Muhyiddin can advise the king to dissolve parliament and call for early polls.

But elections are unlikely in the short term as Malaysia has seen a record number of COVID infections and deaths in recent days.

A general election is not due until 2023.



Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in parliament. Photo: AP

King picks new premier

When former premier Mahathir Mohamad resigned just two years into his five-year term in 2020, the king - in an unprecedented move - met with all 222 lawmakers to see who had the majority to form the government.

He picked Muhyiddin who had the backing of political parties that were then in the opposition.

The king could do the same now.

Below are the top candidates for premiership or as interim prime minister:

Ismail Sabri Yaakob, deputy prime minister

One of the key ministers handling the COVID-19 crisis, Ismail Sabri was appointed as deputy premier in July in a bid by Muhyiddin to ease tensions with key ally, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party.

He could get support from the majority of Muhyiddin's coalition, which has the backing of around 100 lawmakers. But it is unclear if he has the full support of UMNO. He went against UMNO's call to withdraw support for Muhyiddin.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, veteran lawmaker

Ku Li, as he is popularly known, has been a lawmaker for 47 years, held various ministerial positions in his political career and was the founding chairman of state oil firm Petronas.

The 84-year-old politician from UMNO is seen as a compromise candidate between the various factions in the party. UMNO support is key to the formation of any new government.

Anwar Ibrahim, opposition leader

The 74-year-old has repeatedly made a play for the top job, but has so far failed to show he can command a majority.

Anwar's Pakatan Harapan coalition has 88 lawmakers, well short of the simple majority needed to form a government.

His old foe Mahathir and some other opposition lawmakers do not support his premiership bid.

National operations council

Former premier Mahathir Mohamad has proposed the formation of a bipartisan council that would govern the country until a new government can be formed.

The 96-year-old has offered to lead the council.

A similar council governed Malaysia for two years from May 1969 after deadly racial riots.


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Jasmine Le

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