Malaysia’s prime minister resigned and his government collapsed Monday after just 17 months in office, throwing the country into fresh political turmoil as it battles a serious coronavirus outbreak.
Muhyiddin Yassin’s tumultuous period in office came to an end after allies withdrew support, and he becomes the shortest-serving premier in Malaysian history.
With an election unlikely and no obvious successor on the horizon, Malaysia is set for a period of intense political horse-trading before a workable coalition takes shape.
After submitting his resignation to the king, the 74-year-old took a parting shot at enemies within his coalition.
“I could have taken the easy way out by casting aside my principles to remain as prime minister — but that is not my choice,” he said in a televised address.
“I will never work with kleptocrats.”
He has claimed that several MPs who pulled support from his coalition — including scandal-plagued ex-leader Najib Razak — had been angered that he refused to get corruption cases against them dropped.
The national palace confirmed the monarch, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah — who formally appoints the premier — had accepted Muhyiddin’s resignation.
It said in a statement Muhyiddin would serve as a caretaker prime minister until a replacement is found but the monarch was not in favour of polls now due to the outbreak.
Muhyiddin came to power in March last year without an election at the head of a scandal-plagued coalition following the collapse of a two-year-old, reformist government led by Mahathir Mohamad, a political heavyweight in his nineties.
But his government faced turmoil from day one — his majority in parliament was in doubt, its legitimacy was constantly questioned, and he faced a constant challenge from opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim.