Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has received crucial support from a key ally in his attempt to keep his fragile governing coalition together.
The United Malays National Organization issued a statement Monday offering its support for the prime minister as the country faces a surge of new coronavirus cases.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin appeared to be on the brink of being forced from power a day earlier after King Al-Sultan Abdullah rejected his request to declare a state of emergency due to the pandemic. Had the king approved Muhyiddin’s request, the state of emergency would have suspended parliament before the prime minister is due to present a budget in early November.
Failure to pass the budget would be the equivalent of a no-confidence vote against Muhyiddin and put pressure on him to call for a general election.
Muhyiddin has been prime minister since February, when he was chosen by King Abdullah after then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad unexpectedly resigned and his government collapsed. His slim alliance includes UMNO, which had ruled Malaysia for more than six decades since it gained independence from Britain in 1957.
UMNO leaders have been angered over Muhyiddin’s failure to place its members in senior leadership positions.
Veteran opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim met with the king last month and said he gave the monarch the names of 120 members of the 222-seat parliament who are ready to defect from the prime minister’s coalition. Anwar led a coalition that ousted scandal-tainted Prime Minister Najib Razak and the ruling UMNO-led coalition from power in a historic election in 2018.
But Najib, who remains in parliament despite a conviction on corruption charges, has called on UMNO to join forces with Anwar’s coalition.