Malaysia election after pandemic ends: PM

·2-min read
Muhyiddin Yassin expressed confidence that his ruling alliance would win voters' backing at the next election

Malaysia will go to the polls when the coronavirus pandemic is over, the prime minister said Saturday, two days after winning lawmakers' backing for his government's 2021 budget.

Muhyiddin Yassin took power in March after pulling his party from Anwar Ibrahim's ruling coalition to ally with the scandal-tainted United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and others.

Since then, his administration has been hobbled by constant infighting.

In a speech at a virtual annual general meeting of his Bersatu party on Saturday, he expressed confidence that his ruling alliance would win voters' backing at the next election.

"God willing, if it is allowed by Allah, when the coronavirus pandemic is over, we will hold the general elections," he said, adding that "we will seek the people's mandate and let voters decide the government of their choice".

He did not elaborate.

The prime minister -- who maintains a razor-thin majority -- also said he had a "heart-to-heart meeting" with UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to thrash out any differences between the uneasy allies.

"We cannot split. We cannot fight among ourselves," he said.

On Thursday, parliament passed the government's budget in a voice vote, allowing Muhyiddin to stay in power and, more importantly, proving he had majority support in parliament.

Malaysia has posted a new spike in coronavirus cases. The number has shot up since September, with cumulative cases hitting more than 63,000 on Saturday.

"This is the time to serve the people. Not to fight for power," Muhyiddin said. "Work hard to serve and assist the people who are in need of assistance."

Malaysia's king in October rejected a request by Muhyiddin to declare a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus crisis. Many Malaysians were riled by the prime minister's move, seeing it as a desperate bid to cling to power.

jsm/leg