In a dramatic development in the early hours of July 8 (Singapore time), UMNO has decided to officially withdraw its support from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the ruling Perikatan Nasional government.
According to The Star, UMNO leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced the decision following a marathon meeting of the party's supreme council that began at 8.30pm on Jul 7.
Ahmad Zahid said that the Perikatan Nasional government had failed to accomplish seven requirements outlined by UMNO when it took power in March 2020.
These include Muhyiddin's failure to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, "inconsistent" policies leading to an ineffective lockdown strategy, and what it said was the "misuse" of the Emergency Ordinance, declared on Jan. 12.
Other reasons given by Ahmad Zahid include failing to uphold the welfare of the public, citing a rise in suicide rates, and a failure to immediately abide by the calls from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Malaysia's king and other rulers to reconvene Parliament.
The king said on June 16 that Parliament should reconvene "as soon as possible" to allow representatives to debate the state of Emergency and the ongoing recovery efforts.
However, Muhyiddin did not immediately set a date for the reopening of Parliament after the king's announcement, saying it could take place in September or October. He later announced the session for July 26.
This, according to Ahmad Zahid, contravened UMNO's principle of defending the Malay Royal Institution.
"Based on the seven terms listed above, I would like to state here that Muhyiddin's government has failed," he said.
UMNO ministers in cabinet
Earlier on July 7, mere hours before UMNO's shock announcement, Muhyiddin's office announced a mini shake-up of the Cabinet.
Notably, two UMNO members serving as ministers were given a promotion.
Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob was made Deputy Prime Minister, while Hishammuddin Hussein was made Senior Minister.
Ismail Sabri relinquished his role as coordinating minister for security from Hishammuddin, although their respective portfolios (defence and foreign affairs respectively) did not change.
Ahmad Zahid did not say whether UMNO members serving as ministers were expected to resign from their posts.
What happens next?
Without UMNO's support, Muhyiddin will not command enough support from Members of Parliament to hold a majority.
This would mean that the Perikatan Nasional government would fall from power.
A similar thing happened in 2020, when Muhyiddin's own Bersatu party withdrew its support from the Pakatan Harapan government. The loss of the majority led to their loss of power as they no longer had the numbers to form a government.
However, it is unclear as to who would replace Muhyiddin as the country's Prime Minister.
Ahmad Zahid made clear that UMNO would not support any effort to make Anwar Ibrahim the Prime Minister, or to "support a government led by Pakatan or the DAP."
If UMNO is not willing to support Anwar, nor join forces with the remnants of the Pakatan Harapan, it is unclear who could command a majority in the fractured Parliament, if anyone.
Muhyiddin could theoretically remain as Prime Minister for the interim even with the loss of support, much like Mahathir had done in 2020.
Top image from Muhyiddin Yassin and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's Facebook pages.