Malaysia’s Political Woes Resurface as Key Ruling State Falls
(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia is set to hold its first state-wide snap election under Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s leadership, after political infighting led to the collapse of a state controlled by his party.
Malacca must elect a new state government within 60 days, setting the stage for Ismail’s first popularity test among voters. The king named Ismail the nation’s third premier in less than two years in August after determining he had the backing of the majority of the members of parliament.
The fall of Malacca’s government shows that Ismail’s appointment has done little to quell the unrest within the ruling coalition since its unexpected return to power last year. Four assemblymen in the state Monday said they had lost confidence in the chief minister, leading to the dissolution of the legislative assembly. Three of them are either members of Ismail’s party, the United Malays National Organisation, or its ally Bersatu.
A state-wide election may still be deferred should the king issue an emergency decree in Malacca, as was done in Sarawak three months ago due to the pandemic. This is to avoid a repeat of the spike in Covid cases following the Sabah state polls last year, which fueled public anger against former premier Muhyiddin Yassin and led to the fall of his government in August.
About 64% of Malacca’s population has been fully inoculated as of Monday, according to the health ministry data. The Election Commission will put in place strict protocols if a snap poll is held in the state, Ismail was quoted as saying in the local media.
Malaysia’s rapid vaccine rollout has allowed the government to gradually ease curbs on movement as it aims to reopen all economic and social sectors by the final quarter of the year. About 88% of adults completed both doses of the vaccine as of Monday, taking the nation closer to the 90% milestone that would allow the government to lift the ban on interstate travel.
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