The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Muhyiddin Yassin, resigned and his government collapsed on August 15, 2021, after just 17 months in office. The event has thrown a country into fresh political turmoil as Malaysia battles a serious COVID-19 outbreak.
PM Yassin’s tumultuous period in office came to an end after his allies withdrew support making him the shortest-serving premier in the history of Malaysia.
Malaysia, with an election unlikely and no obvious successor on the horizon, is set for a period of intense political horse-trading before the workable coalition in the country takes shape.
The National Palace of Malaysia confirmed that the Monarch, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has accepted Yassin’s resignation. The monarch appoints the premier.
The Palace in a statement informed that Muhyiddin will serve as a caretaker Prime Minister until a replacement is found. The monarch is not yet in the favour of polls due to the outbreak.
Allies withdrew support
The 74-year old Yassin, after submitting his resignation to the king, took a parting shot at the enemies within his coalition.
In a televised address, Yassin said that he could have taken an easy way out by casting aside his principles to remain as the Prime Minister of the country but that is not his choice.
Muhyiddin Yassin has claimed that several MPs who decided to pull their support from his coalition- including scandal-plagued ex-leader Najib Razak-had been angered that the Prime Minister refused to get the corruption cases dropped against them.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in power: Details
• Yassin came to power in March 2020 without an election at the head of a scandal-plagued coalition which followed the collapse of a two-year-old reformist government led by Mahathir Mohamad.
• However, Yassin’s government faced turmoil from day one. His majority in Parliament was in doubt, its legitimacy is constantly questioned and he also faced a constant challenge from the opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim.
• Apart from its legitimacy, Yassin’s government faced criticism over its failure to keep the virus under control.
• In January 2021, he persuaded the king to declare the first nationwide state of emergency in Malaysia for over half a century, ostensibly to fight the pandemic.
• But with this, the Parliament was also suspended for months which led to the criticism that Muhyiddin was using the crisis to avoid the no-confidence vote.
• His position in power finally became untenable after a group of once allied MPs withdrew their support and deprived him of a Parliamentary majority.
• Yassin made his last bid to stay in power on August 13, 2021, by appealing to the MPs to back him in a no-confidence vote, however, his offer was rejected.
Malaysia’s Political background
In 1957, after the independence from the British, the country was ruled for over six decades by a coalition that was dominated by Malaysia’s ethnic Malay Muslim majority.
However, corruption scandal, increasingly authoritarian rule, and the unpopular race-based policies prompted the voters to boot the coalition and its leader Najib out of power in 2018.
The victory of Mahathir’s opposition alliance had fuelled hopes for a new era, but it collapsed amid the bitter infighting.