Muhyiddin sworn in as Malaysian PM but PH resistance continues

Mahathir seeks urgent session of Parliament as ex-coalition allies claim new PM lacks majority support

Malaysia's incoming Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (far left) receiving documents from the King, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, before taking the oath as the country's new leader at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Malaysia's incoming Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (far left) receiving documents from the King, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, before taking the oath as the country's new leader at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as Malaysia's eighth Prime Minister yesterday morning, even as his former allies in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition insisted he did not have majority support to form a government.

Mr Muhyiddin, who is president of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, was sworn in at a palace ceremony in front of Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin.

But PH leader and former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad insisted yesterday that he still had the backing of the majority of lawmakers in the 222-strong Parliament.

"The King has made the decision not to see me any more, but to appoint Tan Sri Muhyiddin. So I did not have the chance to tell the King that he does not have the majority. I cannot communicate with the palace," he told reporters.

He lamented that "this is a very strange thing... The losers (of the last election) will form the government, the winners will be in the opposition".

He was referring to Mr Muhyiddin's supporters from former opposition parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia, which were defeated by PH in the last general election in May 2018.

Mr Muhyiddin, 72, is also backed by most of the MPs from Bersatu - Tun Dr Mahathir's party - as well as those from Gabungan Parti Sarawak, which controls the eastern state.

Dr Mahathir said he would request an urgent session of Parliament - which is already set to reconvene on March 9 - to test if Mr Muhyiddin commands the majority.

"Let MPs decide whether they support or not. That will be the official decision," he added.

PH claims it has the support of 112 MPs, which is the minimum required to form a government.

Meanwhile Parliament Speaker Mohamad Ariff Mohamad Yusof said yesterday that the parliamentary assembly sitting slated for March 9 may be postponed.

"(The session will) probably not (start on March 9). I will be officially communicating with the PMO (Prime Minister's Office) tomorrow," he was quoted as saying by Malay-language daily Berita Harian.

Dr Mahathir resigned as prime minister last Monday, triggering the week-long search for a new government.

 

Asked yesterday if he regretted resigning, he said he was forced to, after seeing his Bersatu working to form a government with Umno the day before his resignation.

Dr Mahathir said he feels most betrayed by Mr Muhyiddin.

"I feel betrayed, mostly by Muhyiddin. He has been working on this for a long time and now he has succeeded," he said.

 
 
 

He said that Mr Muhyiddin had been trying to coax him into splitting with the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party following losses in three by-elections, but Dr Mahathir had asked him to wait until after the criminal trials of Umno leaders were resolved before considering cooperating with Umno.

Former Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Azmin Ali said the Muhyiddin administration would "strengthen the unity of the people".

"We are committed to the national agenda, driving economic revival, ensuring shared prosperity, protecting the safety and sovereignty of the nation... and achieving institutional reforms," he said in a statement yesterday.

Mr Muhyiddin's office said he will start work at 8am today, and meet the chief secretary to the government, the chief of police and the head of the armed forces.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2020, with the headline 'Muhyiddin sworn in as Malaysian PM but PH resistance continues'. Subscribe