Muhyiddin resigns: What's next and who will be Malaysia's next PM?

(Clockwise from top left) Mr Muhyiddin Yassin, Mr Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Mr Anwar Ibrahim and Mr Ku Li. PHOTOS: MUHYIDDIN YASSIN/FACEBOOK, PARTI KEADILAN RAKYAT, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin tendered his resignation to the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, on Monday (Aug 16).

But while he stays on as caretaker premier for now, there appears to be no clear candidate for his successor.

Mr Muhyiddin's ouster - the Constitution obliges him to resign as there is no provision for a minority government - looks set to throw the nation into deeper uncertainty.

While it remains unclear who would form the next government, with no party commanding a clear majority in Parliament, it would be up to the constitutional monarch, Sultan Abdullah, to decide what happens next.

Here are the possible scenarios:

Interim government

The King can appoint an interim premier from among lawmakers, including Mr Muhyiddin himself, until a permanent successor is found.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy and the King has the power to appoint as prime minister a lawmaker who he believes can command a majority.


Mr Muhyiddin can advise the King to dissolve Parliament and call for early polls.

But elections are unlikely in the short term as Malaysia has seen a record number of Covid-19 infections and deaths in recent days.

A general election is not due until 2023.

King picks new premier

When former premier Mahathir Mohamad resigned just two years into his five-year term last year, the King - in an unprecedented move - met with all 222 lawmakers to see who had the majority to form the government.

He picked Mr Muhyiddin, who had the backing of political parties that were then in the opposition.

The King could do the same now.

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Below are the top candidates for premiership or as interim prime minister:

Ismail Sabri Yaakob, deputy prime minister

Mr Ismail Sabri Yaakob could get support from the majority of Mr Muhyiddin's coalition. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

One of the key ministers handling the Covid-19 crisis, Mr Ismail Sabri was appointed deputy premier last month in a bid by Mr Muhyiddin to ease tensions with key ally party Umno.

He could get support from the majority of Mr Muhyiddin's coalition, which has the backing of around 100 lawmakers. But it is unclear if he has the full support of Umno. He went against Umno's call to withdraw support for Mr Muhyiddin.

Malaysian daily The Star reported that there were ongoing efforts to collect signed statutory declarations from various lawmakers to support Mr Ismail Sabri as prime minister.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, veteran lawmaker

Mr Ku Li is seen as a compromise candidate between the various Umno factions. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Mr Ku Li, as he is popularly known, has been a lawmaker for 47 years, held various ministerial positions in his political career and was the founding chairman of state oil firm Petronas.

The 84-year-old politician from Umno is seen as a compromise candidate between the various factions in the party. Umno support is key to the formation of any new government.

Anwar Ibrahim, opposition leader

Mr Anwar Ibrahim has repeatedly made a play for the top job. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

The 74-year-old has repeatedly made a play for the top job, but has so far failed to show he can command a majority.

Mr Anwar's Pakatan Harapan coalition has 88 lawmakers, well short of the simple majority needed to form a government.

His old foe, Tun Dr Mahathir, and some other opposition lawmakers do not support his premiership bid.

National operations council

Former premier Mahathir Mohamad has proposed the formation of Mageran, a bipartisan council. ST PHOTO: SHANNON TEOH

Former premier Mahathir has proposed the formation of Mageran, a bipartisan council that would govern the country until a new government can be formed.

The 96-year-old has offered to lead the council.

A similar council governed Malaysia for two years from May 1969 after deadly racial riots.

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