World

Malaysian PM Muhyiddin passes leadership test in final Budget vote

KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday passed an important test of his parliamentary support, after a narrow majority of lawmakers approved his 2021 Budget at the final stage amid a challenge by the opposition.

The result could signal firmer footing for Mr Muhyiddin, whose eight months in office have been beset by infighting in his ruling coalition and a leadership challenge from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, just as the country grapples with the economic and health crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Parliament voted 111-108 to approve next year's Budget, a record RM322.5 billion (S$106 billion) of spending aimed at spurring economic activity.

Mr Muhyiddin had avoided a potential political crisis last month, after the opposition backed down from a plan to vote down the Budget at the end of the policy stage debate.

A defeat would have signalled a loss of confidence in Mr Muhyiddin's leadership, possibly triggering snap polls.

Yesterday's vote also dents Mr Anwar's bid for the premiership, after he declared in September that he had secured a strong majority in Parliament to form a government and replace Mr Muhyiddin.

Two opposition sources on Monday said Mr Anwar believed he had secured 113 lawmakers to defeat the Budget at the final stage, including up to 10 members from Umno, the former ruling party led by party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former premier Najib Razak.

COVID-19

Malaysia recorded 1,772 more Covid-19 infections yesterday, taking the country's total confirmed cases to 86,618.

Three more people died due to the virus, raising the death toll to 422.

Kuala Lumpur recorded the highest increase of the day out of all areas, with 696 confirmed cases. - REUTERS, THE STAR

WORLD