Malaysia’s new leader delays Parliament by two months
Opponents fear this means more time for new government to entice MPs to cross the aisle
KUALA LUMPUR: New Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has postponed the start of parliamentary proceedings by two months, the Speaker of Parliament said yesterday, amid opposition efforts to challenge his government with a confidence vote.
Mr Muhyiddin was sworn in on Sunday after a week of political turmoil triggered by the abrupt resignation of Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The Malaysian king, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Ahmad Shah, appointed Mr Muhyiddin as the leader, saying he believed Mr Muhyiddin possibly had majority support in Parliament.
But Dr Mahathir's coalition has said they have the majority and vowed to bring a confidence vote when Parliament reconvened on March 9.
But Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said in a statement he has received a letter from Mr Muhyiddin stating the session will instead start on May 18, Reuters reported.
Mr Muhyiddin, a former interior minister in Dr Mahathir's Cabinet, joined hands with Umno - which lost federal power in the 2018 election - and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) to form a new coalition.
His move came after the resignation of Dr Mahathir, who then tried out to form a national unity government but got little support from politicians.
Dr Mahathir went back to partner with his old rival Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim to stop Mr Muhyiddin, but the King's decision to appoint the latter put an end to the efforts.
Opponents of the new Perikatan Nasional government, including Dr Mahathir, have expressed concerns that if Parliament is not convened soon, the new ruling coalition will have time to entice MPs to cross the aisle, The Straits Times reported.
The opposition Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh said that while the postponement was expected as a new government was just installed, an urgent sitting can still be held earlier.
"The Prime Minister should call an urgent meeting of Parliament now in the public interest to determine if he commands majority support in the House, as there are doubts as to whether he does," he said in a statement.
In another development, Mr Anwar confirmed yesterday he had been offered the prime minister's job just before last week's crisis if he backed Umno.
Mr Anwar simply wrote "Yes" on Twitter, attaching a report quoting PKR's Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad revealing the offer but did not elaborated further, the Malay Mail reported.
Yesterday, Mr Nik Nazmi had shared in an Instagram post that Mr Anwar could have been appointed as prime minister if he had abandoned his Pakatan Harapan (PH) allies and embraced Umno leaders facing corruption and criminal charges.
In yet another development, former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said yesterday that the fall of the government that ousted him meant he now expected an atmosphere more conducive to a fair hearing, Reuters reported.
Najib is on trial for corruption that includes the multi-billion dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad fraud.
"I would expect that the atmosphere would be more conducive towards a fair trial," Najib said, at his mansion in an affluent neighbourhood of Kuala Lumpur before heading to his latest court appearance.
"I'm not alluding to anything, because there's no conclusion to the trial... But hopefully, you know, I will get a fair trial."