SINGAPORE – Malaysia has been on a political roller-coaster since the watershed 2018 general election, with a third prime minister taking the helm of the country last week amid a deepening Covid-19 crisis and an economy weakened by repeated lockdowns.
Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob was sworn in as Prime Minister by Malaysia’s King on Aug 21, five days after his predecessor Muhyiddin Yassin resigned as premier after losing majority support in Parliament.
Mr Ismail’s appointment also marked his party’s return to power just three years after it lost federal power for the first time since the country’s independence.
However, it will not be smooth sailing for Mr Ismail.
He has to tackle the raging Covid-19 pandemic that has seen the country log a record number of cases and deaths, as well as manage a battered economy.
His newly installed Cabinet consists mostly of the old guard from Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s administration, raising concerns whether it can measure up to public expectations.
Adding to the uncertainty is that Mr Ismail, like Mr Muhyiddin before him, has a slim parliamentary majority – he has the backing of only 114 MPs in the 222-member house – underlining the fragility of his administration amid concerns of political machinations and feuding within and outside Umno.
Discussing what’s next in Malaysia’s future and whether there will be further political turmoil in The Straits Times’ webinar on Sept 1, 12.30pm, are ST’s Malaysia bureau chief Shannon Teoh and independent pollster Merdeka Centre chief Ibrahim Suffian.
Mr Teoh said: “After a watershed election, we’ve had two of the shortest lived governments in Malaysian history. And it may be a third in a row lasting less than two years with an election due by 2023. All signs point to an even more chaotic contest than the 2018 polls.”
The hour-long webinar – part of the monthly ST Connect series – will be moderated by The Straits Times’ foreign editor Bhagyashree Garekar.
Previous webinars by ST have touched on the stormy relationship between US and China, race relations and rising sea levels.
“This is an interesting time in Malaysian politics and we know that our readers take a keen interest in the happenings there. Through this webinar, we want to address the many questions that are in the air now,” said Ms Garekar.
What’s in store for Malaysia in the near future? How will the political upheavals affect Malaysia and its regional neighbours?
Register here by 12pm on Monday (Aug 30) to join ST Connect webinar: What’s Next For Malaysia? Readers can also submit questions online while registering.
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