Muhyiddin Yassin (C) was sworn in as Malaysia’s 8th Prime Minister on March 1, 2020.

Mohd Rasfan | AFP | Getty Images

Malaysia’s Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a social media post on Monday that the cabinet had presented his resignation to the king.

The post on Khairy’s verified Instagram account came when local media reported that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was stepping down from his top post after losing a majority in parliament due to power struggles within his political coalition.

It is not immediately clear who will form the next government.

The Malaysian ringgit was its weakest in a year against the US dollar on Monday.

Muhyiddin, who came to power in March of last year, ruled with a wafer-thin majority in parliament with 222 seats.

In recent weeks, he has been under increasing pressure to resign after some MPs from the United Malays National Organization or UMNO – the largest party in the ruling coalition – withdrew their support.

But Muhyiddin claimed earlier this month that he still had a majority in parliament. He said he would prove the legitimacy of his leadership with a vote of confidence when parliament convenes again in September.

In a speech last Friday, Muhyiddin admitted for the first time that he did not have a majority. He tried to woo the opposition by promising political and electoral reforms – such as limiting the prime minister’s term to two five-year terms – in exchange for support in the confidence vote.

The offer was rejected by the opposition.

Malaysia found itself in political turmoil following the sudden resignation of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in February last year. This paved the way for Muhyiddin to form a government by cobbling together a fragile coalition.

Covid outbreak worsening

The turmoil comes as Malaysia grapples with its worst Covid-19 outbreak and the economic impact of multiple lockdowns.

Malaysia’s daily new Covid cases per million population is one of the highest in the world, according to data compiled by the online repository Our World in Data.

In the seven-day moving average, the Southeast Asian country recorded 620.14 confirmed Covid cases per million inhabitants on Saturday – the sixth highest in the world and the top in Asia, the data showed.

But despite the political tussle, the authorities have accelerated the pace of vaccinations in recent weeks. Almost a third of Malaysia’s 32 million residents will have completed their vaccinations by Sunday, official data showed.

The Ministry of Health forecast that daily infections would remain high and peak in mid-September before declining to around 1,000 cases per day in October.

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