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Muhyiddin Yassin takes oath as Malaysia's new Prime Minister

Muhyiddin Yassin took oath as the new Malaysian Prime Minister on March 1 despite opposition from former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad. 

Mar 1, 2020 13:59 IST
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Muhyiddin Yassin took oath as the new Prime Minister of Malaysia on March 1, 2020 despite opposition from former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad, who slammed the move as illegal. The swearing-in ceremony took place at the national palace in Kuala Lumpur. 

Muhyiddin Yasin heads a coalition government, which is dominated by the nation’s ethnic Malay Muslim majority. He is a former interior minister and his swearing-in marks the return of a scandal-hit regime. 

Malaysia plunged into a political turmoil after its Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad resigned on February 24 in what is stated to be a self-staged coup. The 94-year-old is the world’s oldest leader.

Why did ex-PM Mahathir Mohamad resign?

Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad with his  Pakatan Harapan coalition had stormed to a historic victory in the 2018 elections. The coalition included Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia party, Democratic Action Party and Anwar Ibrahim’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat. The coalition had a pre-poll power-sharing agreement, under which Mahathir Mohamad was to retain the PM post for the first 2.5 years and Anwar Ibrahim was supposed to hold it for the remaining 2.5 years. However, after a rift within the coalition that began with Ibrahim accusing Mahathir of not willing to hand over the Prime Ministership to him, Mahathir gave in his resignation and pulled his party out of the ruling coalition, leading to a collapse in the government.

Muhyiddin Yasin’s swearing-in a betrayal?

Under the Malaysian Constitution, the King appoints the Prime Minister based on the majority commanded by him in the Malaysian Parliament’s lower house, Dewan Rakyat. The House has a total of 222 MPs. 

Despite Mahathir’s resignation, his supporters had claimed that he had enough majority to be back as Prime Minister. Before he could prove enough support, the King picked little-known Muhyiddin as the next PM and his swearing-in was organised on March 1. This decision has shocked and angered many. 

Muhyiddin heads a coalition that includes the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which belongs to the disgraced former Malaysian PM Najib Razak. Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak had served as the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia from 2009 to 2018.

UMNO is known to be a corrupt organisation, which was defeated in the 2018 elections after allegations arose that Najib had looted billions of dollars from the state fund. The party is also known as a hardline group that demands stricter Islamic laws in the nation. 

Over 100,000 people have signed a petition calling the appointment of Muhyiddin as Prime Minister as a betrayal of voters’ choice in the 2018 elections. Hashtags such as ‘NotMyPM’ are also trending on twitter. 

Background

The political crisis began in Myanmar when a group of the ruling coalition joined forces with opposition parties to form a new government without Anwar Ibrahim to stop him from becoming the Prime Minister. 

Following the collapse of the government, both Mahathir and Anwar launched separate bids to form the government. However, they joined forces again when it became clear that Muhyiddin could get support from UMNO. Till then, it was too late and Muhyiddin was chosen as the next Prime Minister. 

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