KUALA LUMPUR: Mr Ismail Sabri Yaakob was sworn in as Malaysia’s prime minister on Saturday (Aug 21), ending almost a week of political turmoil in Putrajaya.
The 61-year-old politician from United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) took the oath of office before King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah at the national palace.
The ceremony was held a day after the appointment was announced by the king, following a special meeting of the Conference of Rulers. The government should continue efforts to fight COVID-19 immediately, the king had said.
Mr Ismail Sabri was most recently deputy prime minister and defence minister in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government led by Mr Muhyiddin Yassin, who resigned on Monday after losing majority support in the Lower House.
A number of UMNO MPs, led by party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, had withdrawn their support for Mr Muhyiddin. The PN government was formed only about 18 months ago in March 2020 after a power tussle caused the Pakatan Harapan government to collapse.
On Tuesday, Malaysia's 220 MPs were asked to submit a statutory declaration stating their preferred prime minister candidate to the palace.
A total of 114 MPs picked Mr Ismail Sabri, giving him a simple majority.
He was supported by 50 MPs from PN and 41 MPs from Barisan Nasional. Additionally, 18 lawmakers from Gabungan Parti Sarawak, one from Parti Bersatu Sabah and four independent lawmakers also backed Mr Ismail Sabri.
Another UMNO politician who was said to be in the running to be nominated by the party as its prime minister candidate was veteran lawmaker Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. He abstained from backing Mr Ismail Sabri.
The opposition's candidate for prime minister, Mr Anwar Ibrahim, was backed by 105 lawmakers. He has urged his supporters to accept Mr Ismail Sabri's appointment.
In an audience with leaders of major political parties on Wednesday, the king had decreed that all should work as one team.
The new prime minister should also seek a confidence vote in the parliament as soon as possible, he said, adding that a general election was not the best option currently.
NEW PRIME MINISTER THANKS KING, MPS
Speaking to Bernama on leaving the palace, Mr Ismail Sabri expressed his thanks to the king for consenting to his appointment.
The new prime minister also expressed appreciation for the support given by the MPs and heads of political parties.
"For the people, I will make a statement tomorrow," he said.