WASHINGTON – Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yakub on Monday signed a cooperation agreement with the main opposition party to ensure the stability of his new government.
Under an agreement between Prime Minister Ismail and veteran opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, Ismail agreed to amend the new law to reduce party divisions, limit the term of the prime minister to 10 years, and reduce the voting age from 21 to one.
The agreement guarantees bilateral agreements on every bill raised in parliament, input from the opposition in the National Recovery Council, and pay and benefits like the Leader of the Opposition Cabinet Minister.
Ismail said in a statement that the agreement would lead to bilateral co-operation, helping the government fight the Covid-1 crisis and revive the economy.
“The government is confident that it will not only bridge the political divide, but also ensure that the national recovery is inclusive and holistic,” he said.
Ismail became Malaysia’s third prime minister in three years when he was replaced by King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah Mohiuddin Yassin last month. Muhiuddin admitted that he had lost the majority of lawmakers. Ismail served as Deputy Prime Minister under Muhiuddin.
In a speech to parliament on Monday, Raja praised the bilateral cooperation agreement.
“This kind of maturity is desirable to people,” he said.
The king elected Muhiuddin as prime minister in March 2020, a month after the ruling coalition of then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad broke up. But Muhiuddin was suffering from a growing challenge to his leadership within his fragile alliance and a growing anger over his government’s weak response to the Kovid-1 pandemic epidemic.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the country of 2 million million suffers the highest rate of new cases per ten million people in Southeast Asia, with more than 1.9 million infections and currently 20,711 deaths.
Muhiuddin’s weak hold on power began to unravel when a group of lawmakers withdrew their support from the coalition’s largest party, the United Malays National Organization. UMNO, once Malaysia’s longest-ruling party dating for the country’s independence in 1957, has faced a handful of politicians, including former Prime Minister Najib Razak, with allegations of corruption.
Muhiuddin’s 17-month term as prime minister is the shortest in Malaysia’s history.
Some of the information in this report comes from the Associated Press and Reuters.