CM – Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin resigns after failing to receive majority support

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin resigned on Monday after serving less than 18 months and became the country’s least ruling leader after admitting he lost majority support for the government.

Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin wrote on Instagram that « the cabinet offered the king our resignation » shortly after Muhyiddin left the palace after meeting the monarch. Deputy Sports Minister Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal also thanked Muhyiddin for his service and guidance in a Facebook message.

Muhyidddin’s departure will plunge the country into a new crisis amid a worsening COVID-19 pandemic. Political leaders have already begun to crowd around the top, with deputy Ismail Sabri gathering support for Muhyiddin’s successor and keeping the government intact.

His resignation is due to growing public anger over his government’s poor handling of the pandemic. Malaysia has one of the world’s highest infection rates and deaths per capita, with daily cases surpassing 20,000 this month despite a seven-month state of emergency and a lockdown since June to deal with the crisis.

Local media said the national police chief, the chairman of the electoral commission and the attorney general were also summoned to the palace on the Monday before Muhyiddin’s arrival. Muhyiddin, who chaired a cabinet meeting in his office the previous Monday, waved to reporters at the palace gate and left 40 minutes later. Muhyiddin is expected to hold a press conference later.

“Muhyiddin decided on borrowed time. His bad governance, his focus on survival policies and his unwillingness to acknowledge his mistakes have led to his downfall, « said Bridget Welsh of the Malaysian University of Nottingham, an expert on Malaysian politics.

But his departure also plunged Malaysia into uncharted territory. « The focus now is for Malaysia to have a peaceful transition to a new government that can handle the crisis, » she said.

Muhyiddin’s government had a wafer-thin majority and had avoided leadership tests in parliament from the start. It finally fell when over a dozen MPs from the largest party in his alliance asked for their support for his government. Two United Malays National Organization ministers also resigned from the cabinet ahead of Monday’s actions.

Under the Malaysian Constitution, the Prime Minister must resign if he loses a majority and the King can appoint a new leader who he believes has the confidence of Parliament.

Muhyiddin initially insisted that he still has the majority and would prove it in parliament next month. But in a U-turn on Friday, the prime minister sought the support of the opposition to bolster his government. He promised to call parliamentary elections by July next. He also offered concessions to the opposition leader, including proposals to limit the prime minister’s term, strengthen checks and balances and a high-level ministerial role for the opposition leader, but his plea was rejected by all parties.

The king can appoint a new leader, but currently no coalition can claim a majority.

Muhyiddin took power in March 2020 after initiating the collapse of Mahathir’s reformist government, which won the 2018 election. He withdrew his Bersatu party to join the UMNO-led coalition that Malaysia had led since independence from Britain in 1957 but was ousted in 2018 over a multi-billion dollar financial scandal. Mahathir resigned abruptly to protest Bersatu’s plan to cooperate with the former government.

Muhyiddin’s government is unstable as UMNO was dissatisfied with playing second fiddle to its smaller party. Muhyiddin held parliament for months last year to shore up support. He suspended parliament again since January and ruled by ordinance without the consent of the law in a coronavirus emergency that ended on August 1st.

KABUL: The Taliban declared the war in Afghanistan over after taking control of the presidential palace in Kabul, while Western nations tried to evacuate their citizens on Monday amid the chaos at the airport as desperate Afghans sought a way out / p>
At least five people were killed in Kabul airport when hundreds of people tried to forcibly board planes leaving the Afghan capital, witnesses told Reuters.
A witness said he saw the bodies of five people put in a vehicle. Another witness said it was not clear whether the victims were killed by gunfire or in a rush.
President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday when Islamist militants entered the capital with virtually no resistance, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed as hundreds of Afghans desperately wanted to leave Kabul’s flooded airport.
“Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahideen. They have seen the fruits of their efforts and sacrifices for 20 years, ”Taliban’s political bureau spokesman Mohammad Naeem told Al Jazeera TV.
« Thank goodness the war in the country is over. »
It took the Taliban a little over a week to take control of the country after a lightning strike in Kabul ended as government forces, trained for years and equipped for billions of dollars by the United States and others, melted away.
Al Jazeera broadcast footage of alleged Taliban commanders in the presidential palace with dozens of armed fighters.
Naeem said the shape of the new regime in Afghanistan will soon be clarified, the Taliban do not want to live in isolation and are demanding peaceful international relations.
« We achieved what we were looking for, namely the freedom of our country and the independence of our people, » he said. « We will not allow anyone to use our land to attack anyone, and we do not want to harm others. »
A Taliban leader told Reuters the insurgents were regrouping from different provinces and would wait for foreign troops to withdraw before creating a new government structure.
The leader, who asked for anonymity, said the Taliban fighters had « been ordered to allow Afghans to resume daily activities and not do anything to frighten civilians ».

« Normal life will go on much better, that’s all I can say for now, » he told Reuters in a message.
The streets in central Kabul were largely deserted on a sunny Monday morning as awake residents pondered their future.
« I am in a total state of shock, » said Sherzad Karim Stanekzai, who spent the night in his carpet shop to guard him. « I know that there will be no foreigners, no international people coming to Kabul now. »
The militants tried to show a more moderate face and pledged to respect women’s rights and protect both foreigners and Afghans.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged the Taliban to uphold human rights, saying the world is watching: « It will all be about the deeds, not the words. »
A US State Department spokesman said early Monday that all embassy staff, including Ambassador Ross Wilson, had been taken to Kabul Airport, mostly by helicopter, to await evacuation, and that the American flag had been lowered and removed from the embassy premises .
Hundreds of Afghans entered the airport runways in the dark, hauling luggage and fighting for a seat on one of the last commercial flights to depart before U.S. forces took over air traffic control on Sunday.
« This is our airport, but we see diplomats evacuated while we wait in complete uncertainty, » Rakhshanda Jilali, a human rights activist who tried to get into Pakistan, told Reuters in a message from the airport.
US forces managing the airport fired in the air to prevent Afghans from rushing onto the tarmac to try to board a military flight, a US official said.
Dozens of men attempted to climb an overhead departure gangway to board a plane while hundreds of others strolled around, according to a video posted on social media.

#PHOTOS: #afghan passengers crowd at the airport while waiting to leave #Kabul after # Taliban insurgents invaded the capital and regained control of #Afghanistan https://t.co/4rKkohvGfs
Source: AFP pic.twitter.com/ox3VdlVzUF

The Pentagon on Sunday authorized an additional 1,000 soldiers to help evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghans who worked for them and expanded its security presence to nearly 6,000 soldiers within the next 48 hours.
More than 60 western countries, including the United States, Great Britain, France and Japan, issued a joint statement giving all Afghans and international citizens wishing to leave the country the opportunity to do so.
Western nations, including France, Germany and New Zealand, said they would work to get citizens out as well as some Afghan employees. Russia said it saw no need to evacuate its embassy for the time being, while Turkey said its embassy would continue to operate.
In a Facebook post, Ghani said he left the country to avoid clashes with the Taliban that would endanger millions of Kabul residents. Some social media users branded Ghani, who did not reveal his location, as a coward for leaving them in the chaos. « Failed Experience »
Many Afghans fear that the Taliban will revert to the harsh practices of the past in introducing Sharia law. During her reign from 1996 to 2001, women were unable to work and punishments such as stoning, whipping and hanging were imposed.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all parties to exercise extreme restraint and expressed particular concern about the future of women and girls.
In Washington, opponents of President Joe Biden’s decision to end America’s longest war, which began after the September 11, 2001 attacks, said the chaos was caused by a failure of leadership.
Biden is facing increasing internal criticism after sticking to a plan initiated by his Republican predecessor Donald Trump to end the U.S. military mission by August 31.
Republican Senate Chairman Mitch McConnell blamed Biden for « a shameful failure of American leadership. »
« Terrorists and big competitors like China are watching the embarrassment of a superpower lying on the ground, » said McConnell.
Naeem said the Taliban had an international policy of mutual non-interference. « We don’t think foreign forces will repeat their failed experience. »

PHNOM PENH: The last living leader from the inner circle of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia filed an appeal in court on Monday to convince a longstanding international tribunal to overturn his conviction of genocide.
Khieu Samphan, 90, was the former head of state of the Khmer Rouge, the radical communist regime that ruled Cambodia with an iron fist from 1975 to 1979 and was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people.
His defense team is trying to overturn a 2018 ruling convicting him of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, questioning the evidence and alleging that there were procedural errors.
Kong Sam Onn advised the judges of the Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) that his client had not been given sufficient time to prepare an initial defense and that the original panel explained the reasons for its under other things to decide in good time.
« It should be null and void, so I am asking the Supreme Court Chamber to … overturn the judgment, » he said.
Khieu Samphan sat in a chair behind his lawyers and seemed to be listening attentively as they spoke in court. Kong Sam Onn said his client would speak to the chamber at the end of the four-day hearing.
Observers say the conviction is unlikely to be overturned, and even if it did, he is already serving a life sentence for a 2014 conviction of crimes against humanity that included forced renditions and crowd disappearances. This conviction was confirmed on appeal in 2016.
« The appeal hearing is very important for both sides, the Cambodian victims and the accused, » said tribunal spokesman Neth Pheaktra.
The verdict won’t come until next year.
Under the leadership of the late Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge tried to eradicate all traces of what they saw as corrupt civil life, destroyed most religious, financial and social institutions and forced millions from the cities to live in the countryside.
Dissent has usually been killed in the infamous Khmer Rouge killing fields or elsewhere, while starvation, overwork and medical neglect have left many more dead.
It was only when an invasion of Vietnam finally ousted the Khmer Rouge from power in 1979 that the extent of the murders really became known.
The 2018 conviction of Khieu Samphan was largely related to crimes against Vietnamese and Cham minorities in Cambodia.
He was found not guilty of the genocide of the Cham, a Muslim ethnic minority whose members, for lack of evidence, had made small but unsuccessful resistance to the Khmer Rouge. But he has been found guilty of the genocide of the Vietnamese on the principle of collective criminal enterprise, whereby individuals can be held responsible for the actions of a group of which they belong.
His conviction for crimes against humanity concerned activities in labor camps and cooperatives established by the Khmer Rouge. These included murder, extermination, deportation, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, persecution for political, religious and racial reasons, attacks on human dignity, forced marriages and rape.
The Khmer Rouge has been found to have « promoted, incited and legitimized criminal policies and made a significant contribution to crimes committed ».

SYDNEY: Australia’s largest city, Sydney, had its deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday, while Melbourne residents face a night curfew and another two weeks of lockdown amid a surge in infections.
Sydney, now in its eighth week of lockdown, is the epicenter of Australia’s third wave of COVID-19, driving the country’s A $ 2 trillion ($ 1.5 trillion) economy into its second recession in as many years threatens.
New South Wales State Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian said seven people in Sydney had died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, surpassing the state’s previous record earlier this month.
Berejiklian said New South Wales had also detected 478 infections, the highest one-day increase since the pandemic began.
« Our community broadcast numbers are worryingly high, » Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
« Every death is a person who has loved ones, who died in tragic circumstances and expresses our sincere condolences to all these relatives and families. »
Authorities also confirmed the death of a 15-year-old boy from Sydney who suffered from pneumococcal meningitis and COVID-19.
The toll was announced when 200 military personnel were used across Sydney to erect roadblocks to enforce restrictions on movement. Australia dispatched 500 soldiers to aid New South Wales last month.
With only 26 percent of people over the age of 16 fully vaccinated, Australia is susceptible to the highly contagious Delta variant, which is constantly spreading across the country.
While Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Darwin – which started containments on Monday – are all under lock and key, cases have proven persistently difficult to suppress.
Victoria State Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said Melbourne would now remain under lockdown until September 2, after 22 new COVID-19 cases were recorded.
Melbourne’s 5 million residents are also subject to a night curfew.
“We are at a turning point. There is simply no other option today than to increase this lockdown, « Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
Canberra, the national capital, saw 19 new cases, the biggest one-day increase in cases on Monday when the lockdown was extended for another two weeks.
Australia’s economy rebounded strongly from the first wave of the pandemic, with unemployment reaching 4.9 percent in June, its lowest level in more than a decade.
But with many of the east coast’s most populous cities now closed, economists expect a heavy toll.
« Unemployment could climb back to 5.5 percent in the coming months, mainly driven by (New South Wales), » said Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP.
The outbreak and sluggish vaccine rollout have put pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who must return to the polls before May 2022.
Morrison said Sunday Australia bought about 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer in Poland on Sunday, which acted quickly to buy excess supplies.
Morrison declined to disclose how much Australia paid for the vaccines, which will be in addition to the 40 million doses his government has ordered from Pfizer.
Morrison said more than half of the doses from Poland would be rushed to vaccinate 20 to 39 year olds in the hardest hit suburbs of Sydney.

Major airlines are rerouting flights to bypass Afghan airspace after insurgents took control of the presidential palace in Kabul, as U.S.-led forces departed and Western nations attempted to evacuate their citizens on Monday.
United Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic said they did not use the country’s airspace.
A United spokeswoman said the change affects several of the airline’s flights from the United States to India.
The flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed few commercial flights over Afghanistan at 0300 GMT Monday, but many planes flying over neighboring Pakistan and Iran.
Airlines and governments have paid more attention to the risks of flying over conflict zones in recent years following two fatal surface-to-air missile incidents.
A Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 people on board, and a Ukraine International Airlines jet was shot down by the Iranian military in 2020, killing all 176 passengers and crew.
The US Federal Aviation Administration imposed new flight restrictions over Afghanistan for US airlines and other US operators in July.
The FAA said flights below 26,000 feet are banned in the Kabul flight information region, which largely covers Afghanistan, unless they operate in and out of Hamid Karzai International Airport, with the risk being « caused by extremist / militant activity. »
The restrictions do not apply to US military operations.
Other countries, including Canada, the UK, Germany and France, had also advised airlines to stay at least 25,000 feet above Afghanistan, according to Safe Airspace, which is tracking such warnings.
Commercial flights that are supposed to land in Afghanistan are also affected by the chaos on the ground. Emirates has suspended flights in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul until further notice, the airline announced on its website.

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia: Indonesia’s most active volcano erupted on Monday with its largest lava flow in months, sending a river of lava and scorching gas clouds pouring 3.5 kilometers (more than 2 miles) down its slopes to the densely populated island of Java.
The rumbling sound was heard several kilometers away as Mount Merapi erupted and hurled hot ash 600 meters (nearly 2,000 feet) into the sky. Ash covered nearby cities, but evacuation orders have long been in place near the volcano and no casualties have been reported.
It was Merapi’s largest lava flow since authorities raised the danger level last November, said Hanik Humaida, director of the Yogyakarta Center for Volcanology and Geological Security.
She said the lava dome just below the southwestern rim of Merapi and the lava dome in the crater have both been active since late July. The volume of the dome on the southwestern edge was estimated to be 1.8 million cubic meters (66.9 million cubic feet) and about 3 meters (9.8 feet) in height before it partially collapsed on Monday morning and pyroclastic currents quickly streamed down the southwest edge at least twice .
The 2,968 meter high peak is located near Yogyakarta, an ancient city with several hundred thousand inhabitants, nestled in a large metropolitan area on the island of Java. The city is a center of Javanese culture and has been the seat of royal dynasties for centuries.
Merapi’s alert status has been at the second highest of four levels since the eruption began last November, and the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Reduction has not raised it despite the increased volcanic activity over the past week.
People are advised to stay 5 kilometers from the mouth of the crater and beware of the danger of lava, the agency said.
Ashes from the eruption covered several villages and nearby towns, Humaida said. Cloudy weather blocked the view of the summit on Monday morning.
Mount Merapi is the most active of more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia and has recently erupted repeatedly with clouds of lava and gas.
Indonesia, an archipelago of 270 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity because it lies along the Pacific Ring of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped series of seismic fault lines around the ocean.

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