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Malaysia in transition

Malaysia will hold election after pandemic: PM Muhyiddin

Mandate to be sought as ruling coalition secures largest-ever budget

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin speaks during opening remarks for the virtual APEC summit in Kuala Lumpur on Nov. 20.   © Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -- Malaysia will hold a general election when the novel coronavirus pandemic is over, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Saturday, shortly after he averted a showdown by winning parliamentary support for his administration's budget.

Parliament passed the largest-ever budget by a voice vote on Thursday despite weeks of threats by the opposition and some of Muhyiddin's allies to derail the government's 2021 spending plan, which could have triggered a crisis.

"God willing, when COVID-19 is over, we will hold a general election," Muhyiddin said in a speech at a virtual annual general meeting of his Bersatu party.

"We will return the mandate to the people and leave it to them to choose which government they want."

Muhyiddin's eight-month-old administration has clung on with a two-seat majority in parliament, managing to fend off a leadership challenge from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and contain growing dissent in the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the largest bloc in his coalition.

Muhyiddin said he met UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi this week and they agreed to mend ties between their parties and avoid competing against each other when an election is called.

"I know the people are fed up with the unending politicking. The people want political leaders to help them, not constantly fight for power," Muhyiddin said.

Malaysia is facing a new wave of coronavirus infections, with cumulative cases rising more than four-fold since September to more than 60,000 as of Friday.

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