© Reuters. Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin waves to reporters ahead of his cabinet announcement in Putrajaya
By Joseph Sipalan
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will face a vote of confidence in Parliament on May 18. He has focused on fighting an outbreak of the coronavirus in Malaysia since he emerged at the head of a new coalition just over two months ago.
The motion for a vote of confidence was submitted by Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's 94-year-old veteran leader, who resigned as Prime Minister in February when the multi-ethnic coalition he led broke up.
Muhyiddin, formerly one of Mahathir's trusted lieutenants, was sworn in on March 1 after leading a Malay-dominated ethnic coalition, whose parties have a narrow majority and control 116 of the 222 seats in parliament.
Muhyiddin had previously postponed parliamentary proceedings by two months in March when the opposition pushed for a vote of confidence to challenge his new government.
On Friday, the House of Commons spokesman Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said he approved Mahathir's request for a confidence check after Parliament met for the first time on May 18 this year.
"As the House of Commons spokesman, I have to study and make sure that all the motions that are submitted comply with and adhere to the rules of procedure … every consideration and decision by the President of the House of Commons must be fair and maintain the integrity of the House." Mohamad Ariff said in a statement.
The Prime Minister's Office referred the request for comment to the Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, who did not respond immediately.
If Mahathir's group succeeds in dismantling part of Muhyiddin's support, Malaysia could vote again.
In the last elections in 2018, Mahathir's multi-ethnic alliance ousted Prime Minister Najib Razak at the time and fueled the people's anger over their leader's alleged involvement in a billion dollar transplant scandal at the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) sovereign wealth fund.
Mahathir returned to power for a second stint and led Malaysia for 22 years until 2003. He was unable to hold his coalition together.
To secure power, Muhyiddin broke with Mahathir and forged a new Malay nationalist coalition with Najib's anti-corruption party – the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) and an Islamist party, PAS.
Muhyiddin's tenure has so far focused on addressing the public health crisis and the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this week, the government began loosening some of the strict restrictions on movement to curb the spread of the disease.
The government has said the six-week ban has cost around 63 billion ringgit ($ 14.57 billion) in revenue.
($ 1 = 4.3250 ringgit)
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