At the head of a phantom majority, without legitimacy of the ballot boxes and contested in the street as well as in Parliament, the Malaysian Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, on Monday August 16 handed over his resignation to King Abdullah, one of the nine sultans from the States of the Federation of Malaysia which succeed each other every five years.

He remains interim head of government, while a majority is clarified in favor of another policy. The reigning sultan appoints the prime minister at the end of the elections, or when the latter is able to avail himself of the support of the majority of deputies. However, appointed in March 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, after a reversal of alliance within the ruling coalition that brought down the government of his ally, Patriarch Mahathir Mohamad, Mr. Muhyiddin n ‘has never had to test its legitimacy through the ballot box or to undergo a vote of no confidence in Parliament due to successive lockdowns and a federal state of emergency proclaimed since January.

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This reprieve artificially kept him in power, but is now precipitating his downfall: the restrictions imposed on the population almost continuously since March 2020 have strongly affected the economy and have been seen as a pretext to block political life. Malaysia, like the rest of Southeast Asia, was relatively untouched by the first wave of Covid. But Delta variant contaminations exploded in the spring, overwhelming the health system and highlighting all kinds of dysfunctions. Only 33% of Malaysians received two doses of the vaccine, an enviable performance for Southeast Asia, but below that of developed countries.

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Government helplessness

So much so that Muhyiddin ended up being let go by his main supporter, the National Organization of Malaysian Unity. He had contributed in 2018 to the historic defeat of this party which monopolized power for six decades, before rallying it in early 2020 when Mahathir was preparing to cede power to Anwar Ibrahim, the eternal prime minister in the making of the Malaysian politics.

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These political maneuvers have exasperated the population while the number of contaminations has continued to increase despite the state of emergency, exceeding 5,000 per day in May to reach today more than 20,000, for a population of 33 million inhabitants. The number of deaths, 12 784 since the start of the pandemic, has fluctuated between 100 and 300 per day since mid-July.

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