Malaysian PM refuses to resign, delays vote by a month

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Malaysia Politics (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Malaysia Politics (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin refused to resign Wednesday after a key ally pulled support for him, but said he will seek a vote of confidence in Parliament next month to prove his legitimacy to govern.

Shortly after a meeting with King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at the palace, Muhyiddin said in a national broadcast that he had been informed by the monarch that eight lawmakers from a key party in his ruling alliance had withdrawn support for him.

The party, the United Malays National Organization, is the largest in the alliance with 38 lawmakers, but it is split with some not backing the premier. UMNO's president declared Tuesday that Muhyiddin had lost the right to govern with the withdrawal of support from some party lawmakers and after an UMNO minister resigned.

Muhyiddin said he told the king that he has received sufficient declarations of support from lawmakers that “convinced me that I still have the majority support" in Parliament. He didn't give any numbers.

“Therefore, the issue of my resignation ... doesn't arise," he said.

Muhyiddin took power in March 2020 after initiating the collapse of the former reformist government that won 2018 elections. His party joined hands with UMNO and several others to form a new government but with a razor-thin majority.

But since January he had been ruling by ordinance without legislative approval thanks the suspension of Parliament in a state of emergency declared because of the pandemic. Critics say he was using the emergency, which expired Aug. 1, to avoid a vote in Parliament that would show he had lost a majority of support.

Because of persistent questions over his legitimacy, Muhyiddin said Wednesday that a motion of vote of confidence in his leadership will be tabled for a vote when Parliament resumes next month.

“In this way, my position as prime minister and the Alliance National as the ruling government can be determined in accordance with the law and the constitution,” he said.

His government has been seeking to avoid a vote ever since the state of emergency expired, and a five-day session of Parliament last week in which no motions were allowed was suspended after virus cases were found among staff members. Parliament is next due to sit in September.

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