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Malaysia PM defies pressure to quit, says he has majority support

Mr Muhyiddin says Malaysian King has agreed that he should stay in power until confidence vote

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin defied mounting pressure to quit, saying he retained majority support among lawmakers and would prove it when Parliament reconvenes next month.

The biggest bloc in Mr Muhyiddin's ruling alliance, the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), is split on its support for the Prime Minister, who has governed with a razor-thin majority in an unstable coalition since coming to power in March last year.

In a televised speech broadcast yesterday, Mr Muhyiddin said Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah agreed that he should stay in power until the confidence vote, though some members of his coalition had withdrawn support.

In defiant remarks on national television, Mr Muhyiddin said there was no question of his resigning as he held a majority, Reuters reported.

"I am aware that my position as prime minister continues to be questioned," said Mr Muhyiddin, who was flanked by nine lawmakers, including the deputy prime minister and Umno member Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

"Hence, I have informed the King that I will determine my legitimacy as prime minister in Parliament."

Mr Muhyiddin, who is also Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president, insisted in his speech that he continued to command the majority in Parliament, The Straits Times reported.

"I have received a number of statutory declarations from MPs that convince me that I still have the confidence of the majority," he said. "Hence, my resignation... does not arise."

But leaders across the 105-strong opposition bench denied pledging their support for the embattled Mr Muhyiddin and instead called on him to prove his legitimacy sooner.

Democratic Action Party veteran Lim Kit Siang said Parliament should be convened in two weeks for a confidence vote, while former premier Najib Razak questioned "why not now" since "he believes he still has majority support".

Pressure erupted again last week for Mr Muhyiddin to quit after the King issued a rare rebuke of a government move to revoke emergency laws without his approval, an act the palace said ran counter to the Constitution.

TURMOIL

Mr Muhyiddin said the political turmoil was triggered by "certain parties" whose demands he had refused to meet, including freeing individuals facing corruption charges.

"This includes the push for me to interfere with court matters to free a few individuals who are being prosecuted for criminal offences," Mr Muhyiddin said, though he did not name them.

Although there were 11 MPs present on Tuesday evening when Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that they no longer supported Mr Muhyiddin, the Prime Minister said Sultan Abdullah mentioned only eight MPs had withdrawn their support from the government in the letter from the monarch summoning him to yesterday's audience.

Mr Zahid yesterday said the Premier was lying, and that he has sent more declarations by Umno MPs to the Palace.

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