Malaysia's PM Ismail signs cooperation pact with opposition

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob's coalition and the main opposition bloc yesterday signed a cooperation pact to ensure stability during the Covid-19 pandemic, an agreement that could also help the Premier win a confidence vote.

Mr Ismail took office last month with a slim parliamentary majority, becoming the third prime minister in as many years, and Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, has called for him to face a vote of confidence to prove he has majority support in Parliament.

The legislature reconvened yesterday but no date has been set for the confidence vote.

The bipartisan pact signed yesterday covers six areas including strengthening a Covid-19 plan, transformation in governance, parliamentary reforms, and freedom of the judiciary, Mr Ismail said .

"The government is confident that this will not only see political differences being put aside but also ensure the national recovery will be inclusive and holistic," he said.

Mr Ismail, however, did not say whether the agreement included his previous offer to the opposition to introduce political reforms including laws to prevent defections and to limit a prime minister to 10 years in office.

Malaysia has seen political instability since the election defeat in 2018 of Umno, which had governed for more than 60 years, after a string of corruption allegations. Two governments had collapsed since then and Mr Ismail's appointment restored the premiership role to Umno. -REUTERS