Malaysia’s king will keep Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on as caretaker prime minister after Muhyiddin and his entire cabinet formally resigned Monday following months of political turmoil.
Muhyiddin submitted his resignation and that of his ministers to King Al-Sultan Abdullah when he visited the royal palace shortly after holding an emergency cabinet meeting. He later said during a nationally televised address that he was stepping down because he had lost support of the majority of lawmakers.
Muhyiddin also reassured Malaysians that he would not join with lawmakers he called “kleptocrats” or interfere with the judiciary’s independence to stay in power.
The royal palace issued a statement explaining that King Al-Sultan is keeping Muhyiddin on in a caretaker role because it is not a good time to hold elections as Malaysia continues to struggle with rising COVID-19 infections.
Muhyiddin’s tenure as prime minister is the shortest in Malaysian history.
The king selected Muhyiddin as prime minister last March after then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s ruling coalition had collapsed a month earlier. But he has been beset by constant challenges to his leadership within his fragile coalition and rising anger over his government’s poor response to pandemic. Malaysia has one of the world’s highest COVID-19 infection rates and deaths per million, with 1.4 million total infections and 12,510 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Muhyiddin’s tenuous grip on power began unraveling when a group of lawmakers with the United Malays National Organization, the largest party in the coalition, withdrew their support. UMNO, once Malaysia’s long-serving ruling party dating back to the country’s independence in 1957, has a handful of politicians facing corruption charges, including former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Muhyiddin’s 17-month tenure as prime minister is the shortest in Malaysia’s history.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.