Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin poised to resign on Monday, ending political crisis, minister says
- The country’s political stand-off came to a head on Friday after anti-government lawmakers dismissed the prime minister’s last-ditch unity proposal and urged him to resign
- Muhyiddin came to office in March 2020 after leading a political coup against the ruling Pakatan Harapan alliance, which Mahathir Mohamad led to power in 2018 elections
“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.
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.
The succession could also be affected by a splintering of opinion within the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), the political juggernaut that supplies the most MPs to the Perikatan Nasional ruling alliance.
Among the Umno MPs opposed to Muhyiddin are the corruption-tainted former prime minister Najib Razak and his former deputy, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The incumbent prime minister’s allies within Umno include the current deputy prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and the country’s Covid-19 vaccination programme tsar Khairy Jamaluddin.
News reports suggested Ismail Sabri and 84-year-old Razaleigh Hamzah, an Umno stalwart, were seen as potential successors to Muhyiddin as they was palatable to the various groups opposing Muhyiddin.
Malaysiakini reported that Ismail Sabri was intensely canvassing support among Perikatan Nasional’s key players to succeed Muhyiddin. The 61-year-old is a lawyer by training and has served ministerial stints in previous Umno governments.
Muhyiddin on July 7 appointed him as deputy prime minister, and he concurrently serves as the defence minister.
The country’s constitutional monarch Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah wields prerogative powers to appoint a new prime minister if he ascertains the incumbent no longer has majority legislative support.
The current crisis was also triggered partly by a feud between Sultan Abdullah and Muhyiddin after the prime minister refused to hold a parliamentary debate about the government’s performance during a January-August state of emergency, despite the monarch’s explicit orders for such a discussion.
Opposition lawmakers charged that Muhyiddin, wanting to avoid a parliamentary vote that would reveal his lack of majority, had disrespected the country’s revered royal institution by failing to abide by the sultan’s wishes.
Last week, following the defection of some Umno MPs from the government bloc, Sultan Abdullah reminded the prime minister of the constitutional requirement for him to prove he had majority legislative support. Muhyiddin then agreed to the September floor test, after ignoring earlier calls for such a vote.