KUALA LUMPUR – The biggest party in Malaysia’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) ruling coalition – Umno – has called for a political ceasefire just about a week after it threatened to withdraw its support for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration, as the country wrestles with a rising number of coronavirus cases.
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Wednesday (Oct 21) the party would now fully back Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s government to overcome the economic challenges arising from the partial lockdowns imposed on one-third of the country owing to a new surge in infections.
“The party has ordered all of the party’s leaders who are in the Cabinet to give their full focus to help the people and reduce the burden that they suffer due to the impact of Covid-19,” Zahid said in a statement.
He also called for a “strengthening” of ties in the PN coalition to combat the impact of the pandemic.
Umno’s decision to support PM Muhyiddin stands in contrast to its threat on Oct 13 to turn its back on his government.
It had said it would consider pulling out of PN, should “fresh demands” not be met. These demands reportedly include a Cabinet reshuffle to appease top Umno leaders.
Umno’s about-turn on Wednesday comes a week after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had an audience with Malaysia’s King Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah to claim parliamentary majority, allegedly with the backing of some Umno leaders who were ready to switch camps.
The King had postponed interviewing party leaders to verify Datuk Seri Anwar’s claims to after the partial lockdown is lifted. This is scheduled to end on Oct 27.
Malaysia has reported more than 800 daily coronavirus cases in the past four days, reaching an all-time high of 871 cases on Sunday.
The Klang Valley region and Sabah state, which together have about 30 per cent of the country’s 32 million people, are under partial lockdown.
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