Despite the declaration of an emergency in January, coronavirus cases have increased and anger at the government is growing.
Malaysia’s largest political party announced early on Thursday that it would withdraw its support for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and called for his resignation, stressing the country’s political instability as it struggles to contain a resurgent coronavirus.
Politics has changed since a takeover within the then-ruling coalition brought about its collapse in late February last year. Muhyiddin emerged as prime minister after convincing the king that he had enough support in Parliament, but he has been under pressure Since then.
The escalation of the COVID-19 crisis has added to the problems of the government, with much of the country, including the capital Kuala Lumpur and its richest state, Selangor, in confinement, and hospitals to their capacity or almost.
Zahid Hamidi, the president of the National Organization of Malaysia (UMNO), said the party had decided to withdraw its support for the prime minister because of its failure to fight the pandemic.
His comments came just hours after Muhyiddin had promoted two UMNO leaders to the top positions. UMNO is the largest component party in the ruling coalition and dominated Malaysian politics for years before losing power for the first time in May 2018. Wednesday’s promotions gave the party the post of deputy prime minister that before had been fulfilled, in addition to the senior positions of the cabinet holds.
Political analysts said the UMNO measure is unlikely to lead to the collapse of the Muhyiddin government because it is unclear whether a stronger coalition can be formed to replace him. UMNO has previously said it will not cooperate with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim or the Democratic Action Party (DAP).
“Because the country cannot pass without a government and cannot hold elections now, allowing Muhyiddin to stay in power as a minority government is the most reasonable solution,” said political analyst Wong Chin Huat. “But Muhyiddin has to behave like one, not act like he still has the majority.”
Parliament was suspended in January after Muhyiddin testified. “Emergency“Citing the coronavirus pandemic, which allowed the government to rule by executive order.
Calls have grown for Parliament to resume and it is now scheduled to sit for a few days from 26 July.
The “Emergency” order will end on August 1st.
Malaysia reported 91 deaths on Wednesday from COVID-19, with ten people “taken dead” to hospital. The total number of deaths in the country now stands at 5,768 and 40% of these deaths occur in the last 30 days.
The government has been attacked on several fronts, including the pace of vaccine deployment, its COVID-19 testing strategy and the lack of support for people who have lost their income due to successive blockades.