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Third time’s the charm? Let’s see, says Muhyiddin on making a comeback

He warns of instability if the numbers remain unchanged.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Muhyiddin Yassin waves on his arrival at Istana Negara for his audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong yesterday.
Muhyiddin Yassin waves on his arrival at Istana Negara for his audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong yesterday.

Caretaker prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin does not appear to have ruled out the possibility of returning to the top post, as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong prepares today to gauge the support for candidates vying for the vacant position.

“Well, let’s see,” he said when asked if there was any possibility of a comeback during a question-and-answer session with select media outlets after delivering his resignation speech yesterday.

“It shouldn’t have happened like this. I believe, before my resignation, that at that time, I as prime minister had the largest majority. I think you can confirm on that issue.”

Any return of Muhyiddin to the top post would be historic as it would be his third comeback since falling from power.

In 2015, he was sacked from the Cabinet by then-prime minister Najib Razak for questioning the latter’s involvement in the 1MDB scandal. After a brief stint in the political wilderness, he formed Bersatu, joined hands with opposition parties in the 2018 polls and returned as a senior Cabinet member in Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s government.

After the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government in 2020, Muhyiddin was appointed as prime minister.

Yesterday, he announced his resignation, saying his administration’s focus on fighting the pandemic had been disrupted by a group of kleptocrats, a reference to Najib and MPs aligned with him.

Muhyiddin said it was clear that no other individual has the majority support of MPs.

“There was a time when an MP claimed to have convincing and formidable numbers, but we never heard of it, not even convincing, not even formidable.

“Because I know, we are politicians, we have information that not a single party has a larger majority than me,” said Muhyiddin.

Muhyiddin said it was now up to the Agong to arrive at a candidate whom he thinks has the majority support of MPs, in line with the constitutional provisions.

“In the constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong must find a new prime minister using any method he thinks fit. Previously, I was elected based on statutory declarations, I was called twice… will Agong do that again? That is beyond my power,” said Muhyiddin.

Muhyiddin, who leads the Perikatan Nasional coalition, is among the party leaders called to Istana Negara today to submit the names of candidates by each party.

“Will I offer myself as a candidate? I don’t know yet,” he said.

But he warned that there would still be instability if the numbers are the same.

“Even if there are other options, he might have only two or three majorities.”

Any prime minister appointed by the Agong may be subject to a confidence vote in the upcoming Dewan Rakyat sitting, including for the 2022 budget to be presented this year.