Malaysian PM resigns after failing to get majority support

Aug 15, 2021, 9:50 AM | Updated: Aug 16, 2021, 2:03 am
Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin waves from a car while entering the National Pa...

Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin waves from a car while entering the National Palace to meet with the King in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. Muhyiddin arrived at the palace for a meeting with the king Monday, where he is expected to hand in his resignation after conceding he didn't have majority support to rule. (AP Photo/FL Wong)

(AP Photo/FL Wong)

              Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin waves in the car as he leaves the National Palace after meeting the King in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin arrived at the palace for a meeting with the king Monday, where he is expected to hand in his resignation after conceding he didn't have majority support to rule. (AP Photo/FL Wong)
            
              Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in motorcade leaves the National Palace after meeting the King in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin arrived at the palace for a meeting with the king Monday, where he is expected to hand in his resignation after conceding he didn't have majority support to rule. (AP Photo/FL Wong)
            
              Media personnel wait outside the National Palace while Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin meet with the King at palace in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin arrived at the palace for a meeting with the king Monday, where he is expected to hand in his resignation after conceding he didn't have majority support to rule. (AP Photo/FL Wong)
            
              Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin waves from a car while entering the National Palace to meet with the King in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. Muhyiddin arrived at the palace for a meeting with the king Monday, where he is expected to hand in his resignation after conceding he didn't have majority support to rule. (AP Photo/FL Wong)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin resigned on Monday after less than 18 months in power, apologizing for his shortcomings but blaming those “hungry for power.”

Muhyiddin conceded that he had lost majority support to govern, making him the country’s shortest-ruling leader.

“I have tendered my resignation as prime minister and also for the entire Cabinet … because I have lost the majority support of lower house members,” he said in a televised final message after meeting the king.

“I take this opportunity to seek forgiveness … for all my mistakes and weaknesses during my tenure as prime minister. I and my Cabinet colleagues have tried our best to save and protect lives … in this period of crisis. However, as a human being, we are bound to make mistakes so I apologize.”

He said he had hoped to stay on until the country’s coronavirus vaccination program is completed and the economy has recovered, but was thwarted by those “hungry for power.”

Muhyidddin’s departure plunges the country into a new crisis amid a worsening COVID-19 outbreak. Political leaders have already begun to jostle for the top post, with his deputy, Ismail Sabri, rallying support to succeed Muhyiddin and keep the government intact.

The palace said the king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, accepted Muhyiddin’s resignation and appointed him as caretaker prime minister until a successor is found, in line with the constitution.

Sultan Abdullah said a new election is not an option because many parts of the country are COVID-19 red zones and health facilities are inadequate. He urged the nation to stay calm and expressed hope that the political turmoil that has disrupted the country’s administration will be swiftly resolved.

The king’s role is largely ceremonial in Malaysia, but he appoints the person he believes has majority support in Parliament as prime minister.

Muhyiddin’s resignation comes amid mounting public anger over what was widely perceived as his government’s poor handling of the pandemic. Malaysia has one of the world’s highest infection rates and deaths per capita, with daily cases breaching 20,000 this month despite a seven-month state of emergency and a lockdown since June to tackle the crisis.

“Muhyiddin has been ruling on borrowed time. His poor governance, focus on survival politics and unwillingness to acknowledge his failings have led to his undoing,” said Bridget Welsh of Malaysia’s University of Nottingham, an expert in Malaysian politics.

But his departure also puts Malaysia in unchartered waters. “The focus now is on Malaysia having a peaceful transition to a new government that can manage the crisis,” she said.

Muhyiddin’s government had a razor-thin majority and dodged leadership tests in Parliament from the start. It finally fell when 15 lawmakers from the United Malays National Organization, the biggest party in his alliance, pulled their support for his government. Two UMNO ministers also resigned from the Cabinet before Monday’s actions.

Muhyiddin had repeatedly insisted that he still had majority support and would prove it in Parliament next month. But in a U-turn on Friday, he sought opposition backing to shore up his government and promised to call general elections by next July. He also offered concessions including proposals to limit the prime minister’s tenure, bolster checks and balances and give a senior minister role to the opposition leader, but his plea was rejected by all parties.

Muhyiddin took a swipe at UMNO leaders who opposed him, several of whom have criminal cases against them.

“I could have taken the easy route and sacrificed my principles to remain as prime minister but that is not my choice. I will not compromise with kleptocrats or interfere with the judiciary just to stay in power,” he said.

The king will have a tough task picking a new leader because no coalition can currently claim a majority. A three-party alliance which is the biggest opposition bloc has nominated its leader, Anwar Ibrahim, as a candidate. But the bloc has less than 90 lawmakers, short of the 111 needed for a simple majority. That’s also less than the 100 lawmakers believed to have backed Muhyiddin.

Other contenders include Deputy Prime Minister Ismail who is from UMNO, but it’s unclear if a deal can be struck and if the king will accept it.

Local media said another possible candidate is Razaleigh Hamzah, an 84-year-old prince who was a former finance minister. Razaleigh, an UMNO lawmaker, is seen as a neutral candidate who could unite the warring factions in UMNO.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, 96, has called for a national recovery council to be formed and led by professionals to resolve the country’s economic and health crises.

Muhyiddin took power in March 2020 after initiating the collapse of Mahathir’s reformist government that won 2018 elections. He pulled his Bersatu party out to join hands with the UMNO-led coalition that had led Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957 but was ousted in 2018 over a multibillion-dollar financial scandal. Mahathir abruptly resigned to protest Bersatu’s plan to work with the former government.

Muhyiddin’s government was unstable because UMNO was unhappy with playing second fiddle to his smaller party. Muhyiddin halted Parliament for months last year to shore up support. He again suspended Parliament in January and ruled by ordinance without legislative approval under a state of coronavirus emergency that ended Aug. 1.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A Washington State Department of Agriculture worker displays an Asian giant hornet taken from a nes...
Associated Press

No northern giant hornets found in 2022 in Washington state

Citizen trapping of northern giant hornets in northwest Washington ended Nov. 30 without any confirmed sightings of the hornets this year, state officials said Tuesday.
6 hours ago
FILE - Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, speaks during a reception to celeb...
Associated Press

Emhoff: ‘Epidemic of hate’ exists in US, can’t be normalized

WASHINGTON (AP) — Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, says a rise in antisemitism in the United States shows that an “epidemic of hate” exists in the country and cannot be normalized. Emhoff, who is Jewish, was leading a White House discussion on the issue Wednesday with Jewish leaders representing the Reform, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Italy’s La Scala opens season to Ukrainian protests

MILAN (AP) — Italy’s most famous opera house, Teatro alla Scala, opens its new season Wednesday with the Russian opera “Boris Godunov,” a selection that sparked Ukrainian protests of the cultural event serving as a propaganda win for the Kremlin against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, in her first […]
1 day ago
Mark Hager, left, positions a camera with the help of Anthony Lucia, right, as captain Al Cottone w...
Associated Press

Could trawler cams help save world’s dwindling fish stocks?

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — For years, Mark Hager’s job as an observer aboard New England fishing boats made him a marked man, seen as a meddling cop on the ocean, counting and scrutinizing every cod, haddock and flounder to help set crucial quotas. On one particularly perilous voyage, he was met on the dock at […]
1 day ago
File - Indonesian Muslim militant Umar Patek is escorted by prosecutors and plain-clothed police of...
Associated Press

Indonesia releases bombmaker in Bali attacks on parole

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A bombmaker in the 2002 Bali attacks that killed 202 people was released from an Indonesian prison on parole Wednesday after serving half his 20-year sentence, despite the opposition of Australia’s prime minister, who described him as “abhorrent.” Umar Patek was a leading member of the al Qaida-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah, […]
1 day ago
FILE - Janusz Walus, Polish immigrant and convicted killer of South African Communist Party leader ...
Associated Press

South Africa paroles convicted killer of anti-apartheid icon

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The convicted killer of South African anti-apartheid leader Chris Hani has been released from prison in the capital Pretoria after serving more than 28 years for the 1993 murder. Janusz Walus, 69, has been placed on parole effective Wednesday after he was discharged from the prison’s hospital wing, according to Justice and […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Malaysian PM resigns after failing to get majority support