Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin resigned on Monday (Aug 16) after weeks of turmoil in his government, ending a 17-month stint in power in which his legitimacy came under constant scrutiny and amid seething public anger over his handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

The 74-year-old’s departure was expected, after a key minister revealed on Sunday (Aug 15) that the prime minister would meet the country’s king to tender his resignation and end an impasse triggered by the government’s loss of majority backing in parliament.

The resignation of Muhyiddin and his cabinet was confirmed by an Instagram post by the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin. “Thank you for the opportunity to, once again, serve the nation. May God bless Malaysia,” Khairy wrote.

Under the constitution, the duties of all ministers, deputy ministers and political secretaries ceases with immediate effect once a prime minister steps down.

A special broadcast by Muhyiddin, who is expected to continue as interim premier until a successor is appointed, will air later in the evening. He earlier chaired a cabinet meeting and met Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah in the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur.

Legal precedent and the constitution grant Sultan Abdullah the power to appoint a successor who he believes has majority support in the country’s lower house of parliament, the Dewan Rakyat.

The monarch, the head of one of the country’s nine centuries-old royal households, is currently serving a five-year term as Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The post is similar to that of the British sovereign, granting Sultan Abdullah certain constitutional prerogative powers even though on most issues he must abide by the ruling government’s advice.

His powers in the current scenario are strengthened by a legal precedent set by a 2009 constitutional crisis in the state of Perak.

The sultan in that instance used his discretion to pick a chief minister despite the opposition’s call for fresh polls following the incumbent administration’s loss of majority in the state legislature.

Muhyiddin Yassin will remain a caretaker premier until Malaysia’s king names his successor.

Malaysia’s political uncertainty has led to an exodus of foreign investors. – (SCMP)


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