Muhyiddin Yassin, Malaysia’s prime minister who has only been appointed into office 17 months ago, has announced his resignation as a result of losing the majority support in the parliament after months of apparent pressure and political turmoil from current and former officials who are accused of graft issues.
In a recent public address, Muhyiddin said that he refuses to ever work with corrupt individuals who interfere with the independence of the judiciary. He also said that he would not turn his back against the federal constitution just to satisfy political greed.
The comment he made is being interpreted as a remark towards a group of high-ranking public officials at the United Malays National Organisation party who are collectively known as “court cluster.” Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the party president, and Najib Razak, a former prime minister, are part of the group and have pending graft charges against them. They are also among the few who earlier supported Muhyiddin.
From the start of his induction to the office, Muhyiddin was already holding on to unstable political support. However, this support toppled over recently due to the political chaos. The chaos is also exacerbated as the number of Covid cases increases in the country, and the public expresses dissatisfaction with the government’s pandemic response.
Muhyiddin’s resignation letter was accepted by Sultan Abdullah of Pahang recently, according to the palace. It is not yet clear who will succeed in his position as prime minister, so until a new person is appointed, Muhyiddin will continue to do the job. But, since he is stepping down, it is highly unlikely to implement significant policies.
With this, Muhyiddin will officially come down to history as Malaysia’s shortest serving PM. He is currently 74 years old and previously served as Minister of Home Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister, and several other cabinet positions under previous prime ministers such as Mahatir Mohamad, Najib Razak, and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. He was also once a UMNO party member but later transferred to the Malaysian United Indigenous Party because of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad issue.
The 1Malaysia Development Berhad case is considered one of the world’s biggest scandals. The United States Department of Justice dubbed it as the biggest corruption case in 2016. This case involved Najib Razak, who was then-prime minister channeling over US$700 to his personal bank account from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, which was a government-funded development company. Najib was later found guilty and was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment and was asked to pay $49.5 million worth of fines for 7 charges.
The case was openly questioned by Anwar Ibrahim, who is an opposing political leader to Najib. He exposed to the parliament that records show the 1MBD had no appointed auditors or business address. In 2020, the US returned around US$1.2 billion worth of funds misappropriated in the US from 1MDB. They are among the few countries that are making an effort to recover the lost funds.