Kuala Lumpur — Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin handed his resignation to the King, but remained as interim Prime Minister, the palace said Monday after months of political turmoil led to the loss of his majority.
Muhyiddin’s hands have been weakened by months of fighting in his coalition, and it is unclear whether this progress will ease Malaysia’s political crisis after the prime minister’s term has been turbulent for 17 months.
The palace said elections were not the best option and King Arsultan Abdullah was pleased to keep Muhyiddin as a caretaker.
“The king received Muhyiddin Yassin’s resignation and the entire cabinet came into effect immediately,” he said in a Facebook statement.
“After resigning, the King is pleased that Muhyiddin will serve as interim prime minister until the new prime minister is appointed.”
Later, in a nationally aired speech, Muhyiddin said he had submitted his resignation to the King because he had lost the trust of the majority of lawmakers, adding that he hoped that a new government would be formed as soon as possible.
He arrived at the National Palace early on Monday, but his office did not respond to Reuters’ confirmation request at the time.
A ruling coalition of power struggles took place as Muhyiddin tried to restart the pandemic-stricken economy and curb the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
The ringgit currency had fallen to its lowest level in a year before that, and the stock market fell.
Muhyiddin continues to play a role with no other clear candidates, as there is no apparently majority party in parliament.
The King said it was not appropriate to hold an election during a pandemic.
The decision was in the hands of the king. The king can appoint a prime minister from among the members he considers most likely to command the majority.
The prime minister held a special cabinet meeting on Monday morning, state news agency Bernama reported.
Muhyiddin’s seize power has been in an unstable situation, accounting for the majority since taking office in March 2020.
Pressure on him has recently increased after some members of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) party, the largest block of the ruling alliance, withdrew their support.
Muhyiddin said the recent crisis was caused by refusing to request some individuals to withdraw graft fees.
UMNO politicians facing corruption allegations include former Prime Minister Najib Razak and party leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. They were one of those who denied cheating and withdrew their support for Muhyiddin this month.
By A. Ananthalakshmi and Mei Mei Chu