Malaysia’s king agrees to confidence vote on PM’s resignation in Sept

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has faced doubts over his majority since being sworn in on March 1. PHOTO: REUTERS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4, 2021, ST. Malaysia’s King has consented to a confidence vote when Parliament reconvenes in September, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Wednesday (Aug 4), just hours after at least 11 Umno MPs withdrew support for his government, The Straits Times reported.

The Premier announced this in a televised national address following a morning audience with the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, who had made a stunning public rebuke of the government last week.

“I am aware that my position as Prime Minister is continuously questioned. Therefore, I have informed the King that I will determine my legitimacy… in Parliament when it sits in September,” Tan Sri Muhyiddin said. “His Majesty consented to my proposal.”

Lawmakers from Umno, Malaysia’s largest party, had announced on Tuesday that they no longer backed Mr Muhyiddin’s leadership, leaving him with the support of at most 104 out of 220 Members of Parliament.

However, the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president insisted in his speech that he continues to enjoy a parliamentary majority.

“I have received a number of statutory declarations from MPs that convince me that I still have the confidence of the majority,” he said. “Hence, my resignation… does not arise.”

Although there were 11 MPs present when Umno president Zahid Hamidi announced that they no longer supported Mr Muhyiddin on Tuesday evening, the Premier said Sultan Abdullah only mentioned that eight MPs had withdrawn their support in the King’s letter summoning him to Wednesday’s audience.

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Shamsul Anuar Nasarah had resigned from Cabinet on Tuesday, but was not in attendance at Zahid’s press conference.

But critics are calling on the premier to prove his legitimacy sooner. Democratic Action Party veteran Lim Kit Siang said Parliament should be convened in two weeks for a confidence vote, while former premier Najib Razak asked “why not now” since “he believes he still has majority support”.

Mr Muhyiddin also accused his opponents of sparking a political crisis because “they are uneasy with my firmness in ignoring… their pressure for me to interfere in the judiciary to free several individuals who are being prosecuted”.

Several of the Umno MPs who pulled their backing for Mr Muhyiddin on Tuesday are facing corruption charges, including Zahid and Najib, who is appealing a conviction in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal.

The ongoing political imbroglio hit new heights last Thursday when the King chastised the government for misleading Parliament after de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan insisted six ordinances the monarch had promulgated during the seven-month emergency that expired on Sunday had been revoked.

The Palace said Sultan Abdullah had withheld his consent until the revocations were approved by Parliament, leading to widespread accusations of treason against the Muhyiddin administration.

The Prime Minister again denied the claims in Wednesday’s broadcast, insisting that what he did “was merely to… defend the sanctity of the constitutional monarchy”.

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