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Muhyiddin remains in power for now as Umno backs ruling coalition

In day of high drama, M'sian PM also contemplated resigning after royal rebuff

PUTRAJAYA: The Umno leadership last night decided to continue supporting the Perikatan Nasional administration of embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

The decision came after a marathon meeting of the Umno Supreme Council that stretched past midnight, The Straits Times reported.

In a day of high drama, there were mixed signals earlier - including suggestions that Umno might seek to replace Mr Muhyiddin, who had himself contemplated resigning over a royal rebuff to his request for emergency power, The Straits Times has learnt.

The King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, had decreed that politicians not threaten the stability of the Muhyiddin government and let it get on with tackling the resurgent coronavirus pandemic.

The Umno statement did not explicitly back Mr Muhyiddin.

"Umno calls for improvements in the principles of cooperation that must be centred on the values of respect and political consensus," said the statement issued by Umno president Zahid Hamidi. Umno, with 39 MPs, is the biggest party in the ruling Perikatan Nasional coalition government.

Earlier, Malaysia announced a two-week extension of partial lockdowns for Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya and for the state of Selangor after recording a new high of 1,240 coronavirus infections and seven deaths yesterday.

This takes its total cases to 27,805 and death toll to 236.

The control order that was to end today will now be extended to Nov 9.

To make matters worse, Malaysia's Health Ministry on Sunday had to refute allegations that it faked Saturday's then record high figure of 1,228.

"There were several fake messages sent on WhatsApp by irresponsible parties. The Ministry would like to emphasise that this statement is not true at all. Please stop spreading fake news like this," it said on Facebook.

The message claimed that the ministry's director-general, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, was unhappy with instructions from Mr Muhyiddin to fake the number of cases.

CHALLENGE

It also said the government wanted to use the record figure for infections to push the case for declaring a state of emergency in the country, thus suspending Parliament.

Dr Noor Hisham himself on Sunday shared the screenshots of the message on his Twitter account, saying that fake news was a challenge in the battle against Covid-19. - THE STAR, REUTERS

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