Malaysian PM Muhyiddin's government has collapsed, says Umno MP after withdrawing support

Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz (above) is the second Umno MP in three days to pull his support for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's Perikatan Nasional administration has collapsed, Umno lawmaker Nazri Abdul Aziz claimed on Tuesday (Jan 12) after declaring that he was pulling his support for the government.

Datuk Seri Nazri pointed out that with his withdrawal, Tan Sri Muhyiddin now has the backing of only 109 MPs in the 220-strong Parliament, making it a minority government.

Mr Nazri's announcement at a press conference came hours after Malaysian King Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah consented to a declaration of emergency until August, which would allow Mr Muhyiddin's government to deal with the country's worsening coronavirus pandemic.

"I am not calling for an immediate election, I want to make that clear. But what is important here is that the government has fallen. In the coming days, there might be more (MPs withdrawing support)," Mr Nazri, a senior MP from Padang Rengas ward in Perak, said.

He is the second Umno MP in three days to pull his support for Mr Muhyiddin, after Machang MP Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub did the same last Saturday.

Umno, the biggest among the parties that form the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition, is about to discuss severing ties with Mr Muhyiddin's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) during a general assembly due on Jan 31. Two-thirds of the party's divisions had resolved last week to cut ties with Bersatu.

Mr Nazri had previously said that several Umno lawmakers are expected to pull their support for Mr Muhyiddin, effectively undoing PN's tenuous majority in Parliament. PN previously had 112 lawmakers in Parliament against the opposition's 108, but now, including Mr Nazri, three Umno lawmakers are no longer backing the Prime Minister.

The PN government came into power following a spate of defections from the previous Pakatan Harapan administration less than a year ago.

The emergency declaration would also mean that Malaysia's Parliament will be temporarily suspended and elections will not be called until the emergency is lifted.

Mr Muhyiddin in a special address earlier on Tuesday said that an election will be called once the emergency is lifted and the pandemic has been brought under control in the country.

"If the reason for the emergency is to avoid elections, then you can say the emergency is political. If it is for the pandemic, I think a movement control order like one we had in March 2020 should suffice," Mr Nazri said.

The emergency declaration came just one day after Mr Muhyiddin announced that the government would be re-imposing a strict partial lockdown in five states, including Selangor, and three federal territories, including Kuala Lumpur, to deal with the recent spike in cases and deaths.

The number of new daily infections hit a record high on Tuesday with 3,309 cases.

The tally was the biggest daily rise since the pandemic was first detected in the country on Jan 25 last year.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.