Ismail Sabri Yaakob was today confirmed as Malaysia’s ninth prime minister after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong decided that the Bera MP commands the confidence of the majority of MPs to form the next government.
In a statement, Istana Negara said Ismail would be sworn into office at 2.30pm tomorrow.
“His Majesty expresses hope that with the appointment of the new prime minister, the political crisis can be ended immediately and all MPs can set aside political agendas, unite and work together to address the Covid-19 pandemic in the interest of the people and the country,” the palace said in a statement by the Comptroller of the Royal Household Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin.
The confirmation from the palace puts to rest intense speculation since yesterday that the Agong could call for a “unity government”, despite all such suggestions falling short of the constitutional provisions for the appointment of the prime minister.
Today’s statement came after the Malay rulers held a two-hour discussion hosted by Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who briefed them on the process of appointing the prime minister.
It said the palace had received letters from all 220 MPs on their choice of prime minister, with 114 MPs in support of Ismail. The statement however did not mention the number of votes received by Pakatan Harapan chairman Anwar Ibrahim, the closest contender for the post.
“The nomination of the future prime minister through statutory declarations was to assist His Majesty in arriving at a decision to appoint a member of the Dewan Rakyat who in his opinion was likely to have the confidence of the majority of MPs as the prime minister, in line with Article 43 (2) (a) of the Federal Constitution,” the palace statement added.
Ismail’s appointment as prime minister followed months of political uncertainty amid threats from Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former leader Najib Razak to revoke their support for Muhyiddin Yassin.
Ismail and more than 20 Umno and Barisan Nasional MPs had refused to follow the Umno leaders’ call for them to quit the government.
Following the move by about a dozen Umno MPs aligned with Najib to revoke their support, Muhyiddin agreed to put his majority to the test in a confidence vote in Parliament.
The move did not satisfy Zahid and Najib, who alongside Pakatan Harapan chairman Anwar Ibrahim insisted that Muhyiddin step down immediately before the confidence vote.
In a last-minute move to prevent a collapse of the government in the midst of the pandemic, Muhyiddin announced a cross-party consensus to MPs across the divide, promising to implement critical reforms championed by the opposition. The gesture was turned down and days later, Muhyiddin announced his resignation.