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Malaysian Prime Minister Resigns Amid Political Turmoil

Following months of political turmoil, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin handed in his resignation. Addressing the nation in a televised message, Muhyiddin stated that he had “lost majority support in the Parliament” and was consequently seen handing in his resignation to King Sultan Abdullah.

With Muhyiddin’s cabinet having resigned earlier on Monday morning, the 16th of August, King Abdullah ensured that Muhyidding would maintain a “caretaker” position until a new government was formed. With no political party holding a clear majority, the leadership of the country remains uncertain and unclear, leaving the decision to King Abdullah.

His turbulent 17 month time in office drawing to an end, Muhyiddin had been under the pressure of the public to resign. As the largest bloc formed by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) withdrew their support, Muhyiddin’s party grew more unpopular among the general public.

Refusing to meet the demands of dropping corruption charges against various lawmakers in the country, the Prime Minister had promised the public elections in the upcoming year – which became seemingly impossible due to the rising COVID-19 cases in the country.

King Abdullah holds the power to appoint a new prime minister from a group of elected lawmakers. Picking who he thinks can command a majority in the parliament, all eyes rest on the King as the public awaits his decision, while political and economic instability in the region grows.

As COVID-19 cases soared, the public expressed growing concern and anger for the Government's limited response. With a death toll of over 12,500 due to overfilled hospitals, the public resorted to protests, demanding the Prime Minister’s resignation for the lack of attention given to governing the country.

Claiming to gain the approval of the King to declare a state of emergency in January 2021, Muhyiddin has grown increasingly unpopular as COVID-19 cases continued to escalate, and restrictions were no longer followed by the public or government officials. With prolonged disturbance to the education and business sector, the public grew increasingly impatient.

Muhyiddin Yassin had taken control following a similar state of political turmoil, as the former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad resigned from office. Having sprung into the role as the new leader, he soon convinced the King of gaining majority support in the Parliament. Despite the initial support, Muhyiddin’s time in office was disrupted due to extended lockdowns, reducing the possibility of effective governance.

Amnesty International has reported various instances of Muhyiddin’s government using repressive measures to disperse the public protests. Stating that activists, opposition politicians, students and journalists have been previously targets, naming it a “crackdown on peaceful expression”.


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