Malaysia’s troubled PM endures critical spending test

Malaysia’s beset leader endure a pivotal test Thursday when MPs casted a ballot for his financial plan — a truly necessary lift for his emergency wracked, nine-month-old government.

Muhyiddin Yassin’s organization would very likely have fallen, inciting general decisions, if officials neglected to move the financial plan in parliament.

He took power without a vote when a decision alliance headed by veteran previous chief Mahathir Mohamad self-destructed in the midst of severe infighting, yet his administration has been blamed for lacking authenticity and is profoundly temperamental.

The 2021 spending plan — which focuses on fighting the coronavirus pandemic — was passed by voice vote, so it was not clear how many of the country’s 222 MPs backed it.

At 322.5 billion ringgit ($79 billion), it is the country’s biggest-ever budget.

While Muhyiddin’s government has only a wafer-thin majority in parliament, lawmakers are keen to avoid forcing a general election as the country battles Covid-19.

Muhyiddin hailed the victory, saying the budget was “crucial for the nation, and this support will enable the government to carry out all its plans next year”.

The king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who had repeatedly urged MPs to back the spending plan, said it would “guarantee the well-being of the people and help in the economic recovery”.

There will be further votes on the budget, but Thursday’s was seen as the most important.

The result is a boost for Muhyiddin, whose government appeared on the brink of collapse last month when the king rejected his request to declare a state of emergency and suspend parliament.

Muhyiddin said the move was to help the virus fight but critics lambasted it as a bid to cling to power and avoid a showdown over the budget.

Malaysia has had a relatively mild virus outbreak but cases climbed sharply in recent weeks, leading authorities to re-impose some curbs.

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