International Asia Malaysia PM wins parliamentary test of support

Malaysia PM wins parliamentary test of support

Opposition lawmakers were furious, with Anwar Ibrahim labelling the push to replace the speaker -- who was appointed by the previous administration -- as "unreasonable, very unreasonable".

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Malaysia’s prime minister narrowly won a vote to remove the parliament speaker during a rowdy session of the legislature Monday, a key test of support for the embattled leader.

The Southeast Asian nation has been gripped by turmoil since a reformist government collapsed in February and Muhyiddin Yassin became premier, at the head of a coalition backed by a scandal-plagued party.

He took power without an election, and there had been speculation he did not have sufficient support from MPs to hang on to power.

But in a closely watched vote as parliament resumed following a break due to the coronavirus pandemic, his motion to remove the speaker won the support of 111 MPs against 109 for the opposition.

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Opposition lawmakers were furious, with Anwar Ibrahim labelling the push to replace the speaker — who was appointed by the previous administration — as “unreasonable, very unreasonable”.

“If we already have a speaker with credibility and a good track record, a motion to remove him must have a strong reason,” the opposition leader was cited as saying by official news agency Bernama.

After speaker Mohamad Ariff Mohamad Yusof was removed, the premier tabled a motion for him to be replaced by Azhar Azizan Harun, former head of the country’s election commission.

The opposition demanded a vote on the new speaker and sought to propose an alternative candidate, but Azhar was hurriedly sworn in without one.

A shouting match erupted between rival MPs, with opposition lawmakers chanting “vote, vote, vote” and one branding Azhar a “back-door speaker” — and subsequently being ordered to leave the chamber.

Malaysia’s political crisis began in February when then leader Mahathir Mohamad resigned and his multi-racial coalition, which had swept to power at landmark 2018 elections, collapsed amid bitter infighting.

It was replaced by a government headed by Muhyiddin and dominated by the United Malays National Organisation, a scandal-mired party which had been ejected at the polls.

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© Agence France-Presse

/AFP

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