| 4 March 2024, Monday |

Malaysia PM to sign cooperation pact with opposition as parliament meets

On Monday, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s coalition and the major opposition bloc will sign a cooperation contract to preserve stability during the COVID-19 pandemic, a deal that could help the premier win a confidence vote.

Ismail Sabri assumed office last month with a small parliamentary majority, becoming the country’s third prime minister in as many years, but the constitutional monarch has demanded that he face a vote of confidence to demonstrate that he has the backing of parliament’s majority.

The legislature reconvened on Monday but no date has been set for the confidence vote.

King Al-Sultan Abdullah did not mention the vote when he opened the parliament session but said he appreciated the efforts of party leaders to cooperate.

“This maturity is what my subjects want,” he said.

In a joint statement late on Sunday, representatives from the government and the Pakatan Harapan opposition bloc said they had agreed to focus on “transformation initiatives and reforms”.

“All parties have agreed that this memorandum of understanding is aimed at returning political stability to the country in order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and revive the economy through bi-partisan cooperation,” they said.

The agreement comes after Ismail Sabri made an offer to the opposition on Friday to enact political reforms, including rules to prevent defections and a 10-year term limit for prime ministers.

The proposition includes bipartisan agreement on every item to be tabled in parliament, opposition party input on a national recovery council, and a reduction in the voting age from 21 to 18 years old. He also stated that the opposition leader would be paid and given the same benefits as a cabinet minister.

Malaysia has been riven by political unrest since the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which had ruled the country for more than 60 years, was defeated in an election in 2018 following a series of corruption allegations.

Since then, two governments have fallen apart, and Ismail Sabri’s appointment has restored UMNO’s premiership.

  • Reuters