Breaking News
LAST CHANCE for Cyber Monday SALE: Up to 54% off InvestingPro! Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

Malaysia's new prime minister brings graft-tainted party back to power

Stock MarketsAug 20, 2021 07:51AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah speaks during Kuala Lumpur Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, December 19, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng 2/2

By Rozanna Latiff, Liz Lee and Mei Mei Chu

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -Malaysia's king appointed Ismail Sabri Yaakob as the prime minister on Friday, returning the job to a party tainted by graft accusations as the southeast Asian nation grapples with a COVID-19 surge and an economic slump.

Ismail Sabri replaces Muhyiddin Yassin, who stepped down on Monday after coalition infighting cost him his majority, but the new prime minister's backing by the same alliance raises concerns that he will also lead an unstable government.

Ismail Sabri is to be sworn in on Saturday, the palace said, after he secured a slim majority with the backing of 114 of parliament's 222 members.

"His Majesty expressed the hope that with the appointment of the new prime minister, the political crisis can end immediately and all lawmakers can unite to put aside political agendas," it said in a statement.

King Al-Sultan Abdullah has previously said the new prime minister would have to face a confidence vote in parliament to prove his majority.

Ismail Sabri's appointment restores the post to the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Malaysia's 'grand old party', which was voted out in a 2018 general election, after a multibillion-dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB.

He becomes Malaysia's third prime minister since the 2018 election, after UMNO pulled its backing for Muhyiddin last month, citing his failure to manage the pandemic.

"With a razor-thin majority, he will need to make sure he does not face rebellions of those who are eyeing his position," said Sivamurugan Pandian, a political analyst at the Malaysian Science University.

Ismail Sabri, who was Muhyiddin's deputy and one of the ministers who helped fight the pandemic, takes over at a time when Malaysia's infections and deaths per million rank as the region's highest.

Friday's 23,564 cases represented a third straight day of record infections, carrying the tally beyond 1.5 million.

A trained lawyer and member of parliament since 2004, Ismail Sabri has been minister for rural and regional development, agriculture and domestic trade in previous governments.

Markets had little immediate reaction. The ringgit currency,, which has been pressured by the political instability and the pandemic, held steady.


Malaysia has been in a state of political flux since the defeat of UMNO, which had governed for more than 60 years since independence. Two coalitions have collapsed since then because of the infighting.

Mahathir Mohamad led the opposition to a historic election victory for the first time, but his alliance collapsed from infighting.

Muhyiddin then put together a coalition with parties that had been defeated in the polls, including UMNO, but it, too, proved fragile, as the party balked at playing second fiddle.

Corruption could worsen under UMNO's leadership, with no guarantee of the stability its past governments brought, said Alex Holmes, emerging Asia economist at Capital Economics.

"Having an unreformed UMNO back at the centre of power hardly bodes well for the future," he added.

UMNO politicians facing corruption charges include president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former premier Najib Razak, who was convicted last year over a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Both men deny wrongdoing. They remain highly influential and were among the UMNO lawmakers who pulled support from Muhyiddin.

Malaysia's new prime minister brings graft-tainted party back to power

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (2)
Arthur SanLung Lee
Arthur SanLung Lee Aug 20, 2021 6:03AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
RIP Malaysia
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Aug 19, 2021 10:10PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Nobody is # enough to admit guilt
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email