Ismail Sabri sworn in as the ninth PM of Malaysia

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Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob was recently sworn in as Malaysia’s ninth prime minister, restoring UMNO’s control of the nation after his party’s involvement in orchestrating the collapse of a government formed from a crisis only 17 months ago.

The former deputy minister was appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong with the backing of 114 MPs, including those from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, the splinter party whose leadership was ended abruptly when certain UMNO MPs withdrew their support for Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Ismail, who is just 61 years old, was sworn in at a palace ceremony in front of His Majesty, Al-Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, when he vowed to fulfill his prime minister responsibilities. The ceremony lasted about fifteen minutes.

The Bera MP will assume office amid growing public anxiety about the nation’s deteriorating economy and the Covid-19 crisis, which has devastated the country with its more infectious Delta variant, which has pushed cases into the five digits.

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Analysts believe his first job would be to assemble a Cabinet that commands public support and can address the escalating public health issue, while others remain skeptical.

As a senior minister in charge of security for the defunct Perikatan Nasional administration, the UMNO vice-president had come under fire.

His decision to suspend the obligatory quarantine order for people returning from the Sabah state election in October last year was seen as one of many mistakes that contributed to the outbreak’s escalation.

Daily positive Covid-19 instances fell to little over 22,000, down from a record high of over 23,000 shortly before Ismail’s appointment was announced.

There is conjecture that Ismail may still contemplate creating a unity government comprised of Opposition MPs, but no member of the opposition has confirmed the claim.

Both allies and opponents have urged the incoming Prime Minister to reorganize his Cabinet, noting the previous lineup’s inability to deal properly with the Covid-19 issue.

Several opposing politicians have welcomed Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on his appointment as the next Prime Minister, despite opposition from their own followers. Opposition Leader and Pakatan Harapan leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the major opposition group will respect the Agong’s decision but asked the incoming administration to intensify efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic and rehabilitate the economy.

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