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Facing Calls to Quit, Malaysia's Prime Minister Says He Will Prove His Legitimacy in Parliament

Mohd Rasfan | AFP | Getty Images
  • Malaysia's embattled Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said he will put himself through a vote of confidence when parliament reconvenes in September.
  • The prime minister has in the past week faced increasing pressure — including from his allies — to step down.
  • Muhyiddin, who came to power in March last year, has governed with a razor-thin majority in the 222-seat parliament.

Malaysia's embattled Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Wednesday he will put himself through a vote of confidence when parliament reconvenes in September to prove the legitimacy of his leadership and government.

The Malaysian parliament has never voted on a confidence motion on a prime minister.

Muhyiddin, who came to power in March last year, has governed with a razor-thin majority in the 222-seat parliament. Since becoming prime minister, Muhyiddin has sought to avoid parliamentary votes that his political opponents could use as a proxy to a no-confidence vote against his leadership.

The prime minister has in the past week faced increasing pressure — including from his allies — to step down. That came after the Malaysian king issued a rare public rebuke of the government's move to revoke emergency laws without the palace's approval, as required by the constitution.  

Malaysia's king is a constitutional monarch and is revered by the country's multi-ethnic population.

In a televised address on Wednesday, Muhyiddin said he was informed by the king that eight members of parliament have withdrawn their support for the government.

But Muhyiddin claimed he still commanded majority support in parliament, and proposed to prove his legitimacy as the country's leader through a vote of confidence next month. Muhyiddin said the king accepted his proposal.

Malaysia has plunged into a political crisis since the sudden resignation of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in February last year. The latest political tussle has come as the country is battling its worst Covid-19 outbreak.

Daily new reported Covid infections in the Southeast Asian country rose above the 10,000-mark for the first time in mid-July — and have stayed there since, despite lockdown measures and a state of emergency to control the virus spread.

Malaysia's health ministry said Tuesday that Covid cases are estimated to remain around 17,000 a day. It projected that daily infections would reach a peak in mid-September, before falling to around 1,000 cases per day in October.

The country has vaccinated around 22% of its population, the health ministry said.

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