KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysian caretaker prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Thursday (Aug 19) that Perikatan Nasional (PN) has decided to back Mr Ismail Sabri Yaakob as the country’s next leader to ensure continuity in government policies.
However, this support was “conditional” and those in the new Cabinet should have integrity and be free of court cases, he added.
In a statement, Mr Muhyiddin, who is also PN’s chairman, said all 50 MPs from the coalition had delivered their statutory declarations (SDs) to the national palace on Wednesday stating their support for Mr Ismail Sabri as prime minister candidate.
In addition to the 50 PN MPs, comprising 31 from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), 18 from Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and one from the Sabah-based Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku, four other pro-PN independent lawmakers also submitted the same, he said.
“I have also negotiated with the leadership of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), who formed the PN government before this, to take the same decision,” Mr Muhyiddin said.
He explained that this decision was made to guarantee continuity of the PN government’s policies, which focused on efforts to fight COVID-19 and ensure the country’s recovery until the time was right to hold a general election to return the mandate to the people.
“In line with PN’s principles to uphold a government with integrity, I am glad to stress that PN’s support for Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is also vice-president of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), is conditional.
“If appointed as prime minister by the king, he (Mr Ismail Sabri) must ensure that his Cabinet appointees are those who have integrity, trustworthy and free from any criminal accusations in court,” Mr Muhyiddin added.
In addition, the statement called for the PN government under Mr Ismail Sabri to ensure separation of powers and judicial independence as well as to uphold the constitutional monarchy.
“I hope the appointment process for a new prime minister goes smoothly and is finalised as soon as possible based on the Federal Constitution.”
“As PN chairman, I will continue to serve the public and prepare the party for the 15th general election when the time comes,” Mr Muhyiddin said.
On Monday, Mr Muhyiddin resigned as the country’s eighth prime minister after losing parliamentary majority as a result of UMNO withdrawing its support for PN.
He had earlier appointed Mr Ismail Sabri as deputy prime minister on Jul 7 amid renewed talks of UMNO pulling out of PN, but it had failed to appease UMNO.
After Mr Muhyddin’s resignation, the king asked all 220 MPs in the country to submit a SD stating their preferred candidate for the prime minister’s post.
On Thursday, the ruler summoned 114 MPs who reportedly supported Mr Ismail Sabri to the national palace to verify their stand.
The opposition bloc’s option, meanwhile, was Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim.
By : VINCENT TAN – CNA