Ismail Sabri Yaakob was appointed as Malaysia's ninth prime minister following the resignation of Muhyiddin Yassin on August 16. A lawyer by training, Ismail Sabri's ascendancy will reclaim the position for his party, Umno, three years after a shock election loss.
Anwar Ibrahim’s unity government hinges on support from Umno President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is preparing to fend off challenges to his leadership ahead of party polls in May.
Anwar’s decision to put his authority on the line could see his administration halted in its tracks prematurely, with MPs allowed to vote independently of party line.
Pakatan Harapan’s chief has been sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister, after five days of political uncertainty.
Hope lingers for Anwar to emerge as PM after Muhyiddin reportedly rejected the king’s proposal for a ‘unity government’.
Failure by the main parties to win a majority means a combination of them would have to build a majority alliance to form a government.
Malaysia’s 15th general election, conducted against a backdrop of surging inflation and fears of deadly floods in the monsoon season, is likely to be the most hotly contested the country has ever seen.
Malaysia’s tumultuous political scene, coloured by corruption and politicking, is further complicated by racial policies, the rising cost of living, economic uncertainty and an election held during monsoon season.
Umno’s corruption-tainted Barisan Nasional coalition promises ‘stability’. But internal strife and growing support for Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan could yet deny them a return to power – as could the ‘unprecedented amount’ of undecided voters.
The current ruling coalition has promised to introduce an ‘Assistive Basic Income’, which aims to ensure every household in the country takes home at least US$466 per month, if it wins this month’s election.
A crowded election field involving the three main coalitions, tens of parties and a record 108 independent candidates will add to the challenges posed by the influx of millions of young voters who are voting for the first time, according to local pollsters.
Umno President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi left out eight ministers and deputy ministers from the Barisan Nasional coalition’s candidate list for the November 19 elections.
Malaysian voters diverge on how best to avoid a return of Umno to pre-2018 strength, with some still counting on Pakatan Harapan and some looking to new parties like youth-centric Muda.
The two-time leader says he is standing for election because of the people’s will and desire to block former protégé Najib Razak from retaking power.
Anwar will face caretaker premier Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who was endorsed by the ruling United Malays National Organisation during November 19 poll.
National polls were not due until the third quarter of 2023, but PM Ismail Sabri had been under pressure to call for early elections from his Umno party. Timing of the election has been criticised because it coincides with the annual monsoon season.
Ismail Sabri Yaakob said gone were the days when the coalition could field a songkok – the black cap traditionally worn by Muslim males in Malaysia – and still win.
Malaysia’s ringgit, languishing at a 24-year low against the dollar, is poised to weaken further on concern a national election may threaten the government’s ability to push through a deficit-busting budget.
Malaysia’s elder statesman will defend his seat of Langkawi in the coming general election, but won’t say if he would be PM a third time if his new political alliance wins.
Analysts say it might be a ‘tall order’ for any group to win a supermajority this time, given the larger number of parties and coalitions in the fight.
PM Ismail Sabri’s decision, endorsed by the king, comes despite pleas from the opposition to hold the polls after the November monsoon season.
Finance minister says world’s geopolitics and fall in economic growth mean all countries, not just Malaysia, must be prepared for any eventuality.
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob final budget on Friday before a looming election offers a rare opportunity to win over voters with spending proposals.
Ban on films part of broader crackdown on activity deemed offensive to conservative sensibilities of Malay-Muslim majority, in sign polls could be called soon.
Zahid, an ally of former leader Najib Razak, faces a second corruption trial but his acquittal in one of two trials is relief for Umno as it eyes a return to power after its historic loss in the watershed 2018 election.
The opposition leader said his three-party alliance still has strong support, while there is infighting and graft within PM Ismail Sabri’s administration.
A foreign ministry-led multi-agency panel will be formed to secure the safe return of Malaysians held captive in scam centres in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
PM Ismail Sabri is under pressure from his party to call a snap election even as the monsoon season threatens damaging floods.
Any missteps may lead to a repeat of the social media backlash against Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob in December, when the annual floods left dozens dead and displaced more than 61,000 people.
Azmin Ali, Malaysia’s trade and industry minister, said that now is not the right time to hold a general election because the Southeast Asian nation’s economy ‘is just about recovering’ from the Covid-19 pandemic.