Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin resigns

Published : August 17, 2021 19:49 IST

Mr. Muhyiddin's government ultimately lost the support of political rivals needed to maintain a majority in Parliament. Photo: FL Wong/AP/picture alliance

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin called it quits after months of political turmoil. He defied calls for resignation for weeks, saying he would hold elections next year.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has resigned, following months of political turmoil. Muhyiddin gave confirmation of his resignation in a televised address after meeting with King Abdullah. Muhyiddin said he was stepping down after losing majority support in parliament. The king said Muhyiddin would stay on in a caretaker capacity until a new government could be formed.

His Cabinet resigned earlier on Monday morning according to Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin writing on Instagram. Muhyiddin chaired a Cabinet meeting at his office on the same day, according to state news agency Bernama.

Muhyiddin was seen entering the national palace on Monday to tender his resignation to the King. It is not immediately clear who could form the next government, seeing as nobody commands a clear majority. King Al-Sultan Abdullah will likely make a decision in the case.

The national police chief, the Election Commission chairman and the Attorney-General were also summoned to the palace before Muhyiddin arrived, according to local media. Muhyiddin was under pressure to resign from both political and civilian fronts. People were angry over his handling of the COVID crisis in the country.

What happened in the months leading up to his resignation?

Muhyiddin said last week he had lost the majority support in the Parliament, a week after he said he had the necessary support to govern. His resignation brings to an end a tumultuous 17 months in office.

Muhyiddin had previously said he would seek the backing of opposition parties to keep the government from collapsing and would hold elections next year.

Muhyiddin's resignation could return the premiership to the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Malaysia's 'grand old party.' UMNO was voted out in 2018 after allegations of corruption tainted the party.

Pressure on him mounted recently after some UMNO lawmakers — the largest bloc in the ruling alliance — withdrew support.

Muhyiddin said the recent crisis was because of his refusal to meet certain demands, including dropping corruption charges against some individuals. UMNO lawmakers, including former premier Najib Razak and party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, are facing graft charges.

They were among those who withdrew support for Muhyiddin this month.

King Abdullah can appoint a prime minister from elected lawmakers based on who he thinks can command a majority in Parliament. Ordinarily, calling fresh elections would be the alternative option. However, these are considered unlikely at present because of rising COVID cases and economic instability amid the pandemic.

rm/msh (Reuters, AP)