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Malaysia PM wins opposition support as Parliament resumes

This September 13, 2021 photo shows Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah (C) talking with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob (R), as opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (L) listens, after the opening ceremony of the 14th parliamentary sessions in Kuala Lumpur.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Barely a month in office, Malaysia's new leader has won opposition support to shore up his fragile government in exchange for a slew of reforms, as Parliament reopened on Monday.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob will sign an unprecedented cooperation pact later on Monday, with the main opposition bloc led by Anwar Ibrahim that will prevent any bid to undermine his rule ahead of general elections due in two years.

The pact will give Mr. Ismail the backing of 88 lawmakers in Mr. Anwar's bloc, in addition to 114 that support him in the 222-member house.

The government and Mr. Anwar's alliance said in a joint statement late on Sunday that their bipartisan cooperation will “restore political stability in the country to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and revive the economy.” They said they will focus on strengthening governance and parliamentary reforms.

The move came after Mr. Ismail last week offered reforms including new laws to prevent party defections and limiting the Prime Minister's tenure to 10 years.

He also pledged to immediately lower the minimum voting age from 21 to 18, ensure bipartisan agreement on any new bill and get opposition input on the country's economic recovery.

He also made it so that the role of opposition leader gets the same remuneration and privileges as a Cabinet minister.

Malaysia has recorded close to two million COVID-19 infections, with more than 20,000 deaths despite a lockdown since June that has hurt the economy.

Mr. Ismail is Malaysia's third Prime Minister since a historic vote in 2018 ousted the corruption-tainted United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which led Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957.

But mass defections caused the collapse of Mr. Anwar's reformist alliance.

Muhyiddin Yassin formed a new government that included UMNO in March 2020 but he resigned on August 16, as infighting in his coalition cost him majority support.

Mr. Ismail, who is from UMNO, was Mr. Muhyiddin's deputy in the previous government and his appointment returned the premiership to UMNO.

King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, in his opening address in Parliament on Monday, lauded the bipartisan cooperation to help the country overcome its health and economic crises.


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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 6:30:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/malaysia-pm-wins-opposition-support-as-parliament-resumes/article36427394.ece

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