Malaysian political crisis in a nut shell

The 2020–21 Malaysian political crisis is an ongoing political crisis in Malaysia. It has been caused by Members of Parliament (MPs) changing party support, leading to the loss of parliamentary majority and the collapse of two successive coalition governments.

In February 2020, developments commonly nicknamed the Sheraton Move (Malay: Langkah Sheraton) oversaw the ousting of the elected Pakatan Harapan government and the resignation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, after he had ruled the nation for 22 months. The Pakatan Harapan government was replaced with the Perikatan Nasional government under Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin

Political instability continued after this change throughout 2020 and into 2021, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This culminated in the resignation of Muhyiddin and his cabinet in August 2021 after 17 months in power. Ismail Sabri Yaakob was appointed as Prime Minister a few days later.

The crisis started when several political parties joined forces and tried to form a new government by claiming majority seats and support in the Dewan Rakyat, the lower chamber of the bicameral Parliament of Malaysia, without going through a general election. 

They accomplished it through the withdrawal of the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) from the Pakatan Harapan coalition and through the support of several MPs from the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) led by its deputy president Azmin Ali who left the party. The prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, resigned as a result.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Abdullah of Pahang, then met with all MPs and political party leaders to gauge their support for a new prime minister. He ultimately appointed the president of Bersatu, Muhyiddin Yassin, as the eighth prime minister. Muhyiddin then declared his coalition government as Perikatan Nasional.

Four states; Johor, Malacca, Perak and Kedah also experienced changes in the respective state governments as Perikatan Nasional gained majorities in the separate state legislative assemblies. The Sabah State Legislative Assembly was dissolved, triggering the 2020 Sabah state election. Perikatan Nasional won the election and formed state government with Barisan Nasional and United Sabah Party.

Political instability continued after the change in government. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim announced he had majority support to form a new government in September 2020, but this did not materialise. Malaysia declared a State of Emergency in January 2021 amid the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, suspending parliament and all elections until August. 

The declaration attracted political controversy; a number of MPs from major coalition party UMNO withdrew support for the government in disapproval, temporarily leading to a minority government and destabilising the coalition. 

On 8 July 2021, the President of UMNO announced that the party had withdrawn support for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin over the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic although others in UMNO later affirmed their support, splitting the party and putting the government's status into question. 

Parliament temporarily reconvened in late July, but expected debate over the emergency measures was blocked, and was then suspended again when COVID-19 cases were detected in the building. 

Despite this, opposition MPs attempted to enter parliament on 2 August after the State of Emergency ended, but were blocked by police. After losing majority support and attempts to regain it were unsuccessful,Prime Minister Muhyiddin and his cabinet resigned on 16 August 2021. Four days later, UMNO's Vice President Ismail Sabri Yaakob was appointed prime minister by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong after receiving support with the most MPs.

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