Malaysia’s new PM delays Parliament, and no-confidence vote

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA (AP) — Malaysia’s new leader has postponed the next session of Parliament by more than two months, effectively delaying plans by Mahathir Mohamad’s former ruling alliance to seek a no-confidence vote against him.

Lower House Speaker Mohamad Ariff Mohamad Yusof said in a statement yesterday that lawmakers will reconvene on May 18 instead of March 9 as originally scheduled. He said the decision was based on Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s order, but no reason was given for the postponement.

Muhyiddin, 72, was sworn in last Sunday as Malaysia’s eighth Prime Minister after his surprise weekend appointment by the king capped a week of political turmoil.

Muhyiddin led his Bersatu party out of the governing Alliance of Hope, depriving it of a majority and causing its collapse less than two years after its historic victory in 2018 ousted a corruption-tainted coalition that had ruled for 61 years.

Bersatu joined hands with the same coalition that it ousted, along with several smaller parties, to form a Malay-majority government. Mahathir, 94, resigned to protest Bersatu’s plan to work with the former government.

Mahathir tried to make a comeback, but it was too late, as the king appointed Muhyiddin, whom he deemed had the support of a majority of lawmakers.

But Mahathir said he had majority backing to serve as prime minister for a third time. He has called for an urgent vote in Parliament to test Muhyiddin’s claim of majority support, warning that any delay could see his supporters being inducted to support the government of the day.

There was no immediate response from Mahathir’s camp on the delayed resumption of Parliament. Many Malaysians are angered by what they see as a betrayal of their vote for a change in 2018 elections, with small protest rallies held over the weekend to “reject the traitors”.

Muhyiddin Yassin, waves with his family and supporters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. PHOTO: AP