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Mahathir's no-confidence vote against Muhyiddin delayed over virus

Malaysia's new prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin (Kyodo)

KUALA LUMPUR (Kyodo) -- Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Wednesday questioned the legitimacy of the one-day Parliament meeting next week after his successor Muhyiddin Yassin pre-empted his no-confidence motion against him by limiting the meeting to an address by King Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin.

    Speaking in a video message, Mahathir said usually after the king's speech that reflects the government's stand, it would be opened for debate and voted on, but this time, there will be no debate and no vote.

    "What Tan Sri Muhyiddin did, did not follow the regulations," he said.

    Earlier Wednesday, House of Representatives Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff said in a statement that he was notified the previous day by Muhyiddin of an amendment limiting the agenda for the Monday meeting to a speech by the king.

    According to Ariff's statement, Muhyiddin said that due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis, the one-day sitting will only cover the royal address, with the meeting to be adjourned afterward.

    The next meeting is slated to be held in July.

    Previously, in addition to the customary royal address, the one-day sitting to open the first Parliament meeting of the year was supposed to include government-related matters.

    There were hopes that the speaker, who was appointed during Mahathir's tenure, would extend the meeting and allow the house to debate the no-confidence motion sought by Mahathir.

    Last Friday, Ariff unexpectedly announced that he had accepted Mahathir's application to move the no-confidence motion against Muhyiddin when the house meets.

    "I have been waiting to be given a chance to speak on my motion of no-confidence against Muhyiddin. I will explain the reasons why I brought the motion, but it seems there is attempt to prevent me from speaking as a member of the House. So what kind of government is this?" Mahathir said.

    Once allies and founding members of the Malaysian Indigenous United Party or Bersatu, Mahathir and Muhyiddin are now bitter political enemies, with the former prime minister accusing his former interior minister of betrayal.

    In February, Muhyiddin led Bersatu to defect from the multi-ethnic coalition that won the 2018 election to join forces with the opposition, forcing Mahathir to resign.

    Mahathir repeated his view that Muhyiddin's appointment on March 1 was "not legitimate" especially the latter's claim then that he had majority support.

    Had Parliament met as originally scheduled in mid-March, Mahathir believed he could prove he has enough support from the legislators to be returned to power. But now he accuses Muhyiddin of bribing his way to gain support by dishing out positions to parliamentarians.

    "Now, of course, he has majority support because he has offered many positions to even my supporters," Mahathir said.

    Even with the no-confidence motion now off the agenda, Muhyiddin's two-month old government is bogged down by the coronavirus outbreak that threatens to derail the economy.

    The lower house was originally supposed to meet in mid-March but was postponed to May 18 ostensibly to allow Muhyiddin time to fill his Cabinet and sort out other matters.

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