Malaysian leader fights for job as virus surge hits new record

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Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Wednesday dismissed calls for him to quit, saying he would put forward a confidence vote in parliament next month to prove he retains majority support.

“I am aware that my position as prime minister is always being questioned,” Muhyiddin said, speaking on national TV after a meeting with the country’s king, Abdullah.

The monarch last week accused the government of skirting royal protocol – allegations Muhyiddin denied, but which sharpened calls by opposition parties and some in the governing coalition for him to quit.

Muhyiddin had earlier come under pressure to resign for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Health Ministry reported almost 20,000 new infections on Wednesday, nearly five times as many as when Muhyiddin imposed a “total” lockdown in May.
Opposition leaders responded to Muhyiddin’s Wednesday announcement by seeking an immediate vote and calling for him to publish a list of supporting lawmakers.

It would be “impossible” for Muhyiddin to retain enough backing, they said, after the defection on Tuesday of some from the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the biggest party in Muhyiddin’s coalition.

Among the UMNO lawmakers demanding Muhyiddin step down was Najib Razak, a former prime minister, who last year was sentenced to 12 years in jail for corruption, though he remains free on appeal.

Muhyiddin claimed on Wednesday he had been asked “to intervene in court affairs to acquit several individuals who are being prosecuted for criminal offences.”

UMNO’s Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the deputy premier, appeared alongside Muhyiddin on TV on Wednesday, suggesting a split in the party.

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