Malaysia's new PM sworn in: Timeline of 7 days of twists and turns

The Guard of Honour at Istana Negara before the rulers attend a special meeting with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, on Feb 28, 2020.
The Guard of Honour at Istana Negara before the rulers attend a special meeting with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, on Feb 28, 2020.PHOTO: THE STAR PUBLICATION

Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, yesterday named Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin as the next prime minister, after a week of political tumult, with surprising twists and turns.

It remains unclear if the appointment will resolve the entanglement, because Pakatan Harapan, which suddenly finds itself out of power, wants to appeal against the decision to the King.

Sunday, Feb 23

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's Bersatu, Umno and then PKR deputy president Azmin Ali and his supporters hold separate meetings, sparking speculation that they are planning to form a backdoor government, to exclude the remaining three PH parties. This follows unending bickering over when Dr Mahathir should hand over the Malaysian prime ministership to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Monday

Bersatu, with 26 MPs then, quits the ruling PH coalition and 11 PKR MPs leave the party. PH collapses as it needs at least 112 of the total 222 lawmakers in Parliament to remain as the government. Dr Mahathir resigns as prime minister and Bersatu chairman. The King accepts his resignation but appoints him interim prime minister until a new leader is chosen. The King, on the advice of the Prime Minister, dissolves all Cabinet appointments.

PH leaders announce their support for Dr Mahathir to remain as prime minister. Mr Anwar says Dr Mahathir was not involved in the political plot.

Tuesday

The King, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, begins one-on-one interviews with lawmakers to determine who they want as the next prime minister, and whether Parliament should be dissolved or a new government allowed to be formed. Opposition parties BN and PAS say they want a fresh election.

Wednesday

Even as the King meets the remaining MPs at the National Palace, Dr Mahathir appears on national television and says he is seeking to form a unity government of individuals who will set aside party politics and ideology.

But Mr Anwar says all 92 PH MPs back him as premier candidate, distancing the coalition from Dr Mahathir's plan for a government that includes all parties.



Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin (left) appointed Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad as interim prime minister until a head of government is appointed. PHOTO: AFP

Thursday

Dr Mahathir agrees to return as Bersatu chairman, and says Parliament will meet on March 2 to allow lawmakers to vote on whether they want him or Mr Anwar to be the prime minister. Dr Mahathir says he is confident he has the minimum support from 112 MPs to continue as premier.

PH, meanwhile, rejects Dr Mahathir's plan for a government that abandons PH's coalition manifesto, while Umno briefs its 191 divisional chiefs on preparations for fresh polls.

Friday

Morning

The Conference of Rulers meets the King to discuss the political crisis. The King, by this time, has the numbers on how many MPs support Dr Mahathir or Mr Anwar, and how many MPs have told him to dissolve Parliament for new elections to be called to resolve the impasse.

Afternoon

Malaysia's Parliament Speaker Mohamad Ariff Mohamad Yusof, dismissing Dr Mahathir's call for a special session for March 2, says there will not be any Parliament sitting that day unless the King says otherwise.

In a rebuff to Dr Mahathir, Malaysia's King says he, and not Parliament, will decide on the next PM. The King also says he does not have confidence that any MP has majority support to form a new government, after meeting all lawmakers.

Bersatu says it will nominate Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as its prime minister candidate.

BN and PAS, with a total of 60 MPs, back Mr Muhyiddin as PM. With Bersatu's 36, this means Mr Muhyiddin has 96 lawmakers backing him.

But Mr Anwar says he has the numbers to form the government. He already has 92 MPs from PH but indicates that others are ready to defect to his side.

Saturday

9.24am: Interim PM Mahathir says he is confident he has the numbers needed to garner majority support in Parliament.

9.30am: PH coalition declares its support for Dr Mahathir as its candidate for prime minister, decrying efforts to install a "backdoor government involving kleptocrats and traitors".

10.00am: Bersatu's Mr Muhyiddin, PAS chief Abdul Hadi Awang, PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan and Umno president

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi head to the National Palace for an audience with the King. They leave after 40 minutes.

1.52pm: Mr Anwar enters the National Palace, leaving 10 minutes later.

2.30pm: Mr Anwar tweets that he has handed over a letter to the Palace stating that PH now supports Dr Mahathir instead of Mr Anwar for the position of PM.

4.33pm: The King announces that he appoints Mr Muhyiddin as Malaysia's 8th prime minister.

5.30pm: Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub says PH will appeal against the King's decision.