Malaysia’s Cabinet Ministers Pledge Support to PM Muhyiddin

Malaysian cabinet ministers on Wednesday unanimously pledged support for Muhyiddin Yassin to continue as the nation’s prime minister.

The backing comes a week after the United Malays National Organisation, the largest party in the ruling coalition, retracted support for Muhyiddin and demanded he step down for failing to control the worsening Covid-19 situation, calling for a new leader to take over until fresh elections can be held.

Still, the cabinet ministers, including those from UMNO, rallied around Muhyiddin and in a statement said the priority is to ensure the success of the National Recovery Plan, aimed at controlling the pandemic and boosting economic growth by gradually lifting movement restrictions.

Muhyiddin’s administration has attracted criticism for failing to stem the outbreak despite the much of the country being under a lockdown since June 1. New cases topped a record 11,000 for a second day on Wednesday, even as the daily vaccination rate hit a new high this week and the government ramped up screenings.

Malaysia’s parliament is set to convene for five days from July 26 to discuss the Covid recovery plan, the first meeting since it was suspended in January after Muhyiddin declared a state of emergency to deal with the outbreak.

UMNO’s support is key for Muhyiddin to maintain the razor-thin majority he cobbled together to emerge as prime minister last year.

Ties between UMNO and Muhyiddin’s Bersatu party have been strained for months due to what UMNO perceived as a power imbalance within the government -- despite its larger size, UMNO holds fewer positions in the cabinet.

Prior to last week’s turmoil Muhyiddin had sought to alleviate that perception, appointing UMNO lawmakers Ismail Sabri Yaakob as deputy prime minister and Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to senior minister in a bid to shore up support.

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