Malaysia seeks 2nd PM in 500 days

On the caretaker post, Muhyiddin says he will carry out his duties, albeit with limited power, to help the country


AFTER 521 days or almost 18 months in power, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) has finally caved in to political pressure and resigned as the prime minister (PM) yesterday.

The Palace has appointed him caretaker PM until a new one is selected.

The 74-year-old, whose rise to the premiership was controversial, found himself checked by the political moves of several Umno members in his administration, who retracted their support for him. Muhyiddin finally admitted to  losing the majority support, without having to go through Parliament to face the vote of confidence next month.

“Obviously, I have lost the support of the majority. So, there is no need for my legitimacy as PM to be determined in Parliament,” he said in a special address.

Muhyiddin blamed a political power grab within his coalition and the Opposition for triggering the downfall of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

“I have made various efforts to the last minute to save the PN government at least until the pandemic management, vaccination programme and economic recovery are completed.

“But this attempt was not successful because there were parties who were greedy to seize power instead of prioritising the people’s lives,” he said.

The Pagoh MP submitted his resignation during an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong yesterday.

He said a new government should be formed immediately to avoid disruption to the country’s efforts in battling the pandemic.

“I hope a new government can be formed immediately so that the administration of this country is not disrupted and can run as usual.

“The next two months is very important as we are expected to achieve herd immunity in October.”

Muhyiddin said his Cabinet has purchased more than 87 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, which cost the government RM4.36 billion.

“To all my fellow Malaysians, you don’t have to worry. My Cabinet has ordered more than enough vaccines for all of you. If the vaccination programme goes well, all of you will get vaccinated by the end of October.

“Hopefully, with the increasing rate of the vaccination programme, more lives can be saved and Malaysians can return to their normal life,” he added.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim welcomed Muhyiddin’s decision and thanked him for his service.

DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng said the next PM will face huge challenges and has to do a far better job in dealing with the triple crisis, particularly to save lives and livelihoods badly affected by the pandemic.

“DAP commends Tan Sri Mahiaddin Md Yassin for taking the correct constitutional step following his resignation as PM after losing his parliamentary majority.

“During his 17 months in power, Mahiaddin tried hard but fell short in handling the triple crisis of Covid-19 pandemic, economic recession and political instability,” Lim said.

Meanwhile, Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Indera Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has agreed to appoint Muhyiddin as the caretaker PM until his replacement is appointed.

Ahmad Fadil said in a statement yesterday that the King accepted Muhyiddin’s resignation.

“As the head of the country, His Majesty understands and respects the country’s legal system and process, and also respects any decision made by Tan Sri Mahiaddin that is based on the federal constitution and the rule of law.

“The King is also of the view that the implementation of the 15th General Election is not the best option due to the pandemic plaguing the nation.

“Based on the Election Commission’s feedback, 484 out of 613 electoral areas, representing 79%, were still in the red zone as of Aug 10, 2021.

“At the same time, the King has called for the endless political issue that has disrupted the nation to end for the sake of the people’s wellbeing.”

Muhyiddin was appointed as the country’s PM on Feb 29, 2020, following the abrupt resignation of former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad five days prior.

Muhyiddin is the first person appointed to the position while holding both parliamentary and state seats at the same time.

On the caretaker post, Muhyiddin said he will carry out his duties, albeit with limited power, to help the country.

“I have sought the opinion of the attorney-general and he said that I could exercise the executive functions and advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong until a new PM is appointed,” he said in a Bernama report.

There would be no Cabinet at the time being, he added.