Caretaker Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced today that his political coalition Perikatan Nasional, or PN, has joined UMNO to nominate Ismail Sabri Yaakob as the next leader.
The 74-year-old, who this week became Malaysia’s shortest-serving prime minister, said that Ismail would be a good choice to lead the “new Perikatan Nasional government” on condition that those facing court charges not be appointed as cabinet ministers. Muhyiddin’s statement comes a day after the UMNO political party also picked Ismail as their option for prime minister.
“In line with PN’s principles of defending a government with integrity, I wish to emphasize that PN’s support for Ismail, who is also Umno vice-president, is conditional,” the statement said, adding: “The new government under his leadership must also continue the practice of respecting the principle of separation of powers, protecting the independence of the judiciary and upholding the concept of constitutional monarchy.”
Fifty members from his coalition and four independent Members of Parliament backed Muhyiddin’s conditional support for Ismail. Leaders from the Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Parti Bersatu Sabah were also approached to make the same decision, Muhyiddin said.
A total of 114 MPs met with the king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, today to confirm their support for Ismail as the next prime minister. UMNO’s Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was not on the list.
There are 222 seats in the Malaysian Parliament, but two seats have been left vacant. With 114 MPs supporting Ismail, a simple majority has been achieved.
But not everyone’s in favor of Ismail. More than 200,000 people have signed an online petition rejecting Ismail as Malaysia’s ninth prime minister for “mishandling the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The petition, which was started by someone named Kyle Mohd, accused Ismail of issuing numerous statements deemed to be inappropriate, such as his call for a boycott of Chinese businesses in 2015.