Malaysia’s Mahathir resigns, sparks political turmoil
Marje Pelayo • February 25, 2020 • 695
REUTERS – Minister Mahathir Mohamad has submitted a letter of resignation to Malaysia’s king, his office said on Monday (February 24), amid talk of forming a new governing coalition.
The fate of Malaysia’s ruling coalition had been in doubt after surprise weekend talks between it and opposition groups on forming a new government that would exclude Mahathir’s anointed successor Anwar Ibrahim.
It was not immediately clear if Mahathir could form another government with the support of other parties, but his party, Bersatu, has also quit the ruling coalition, its president, Malaysian home minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Facebook.
The tussle between old rivals Mahathir, 94, and Anwar, 72, has shaped Malaysian politics for decades and tension has persisted, despite their alliance to win 2018 elections based on a promise that Mahathir would one day cede power to Anwar.
“I am impressed with his position…to not bow to groups that want to seize power without an agenda for change,” Anwar told reporters outside his party headquarters after the two met, but without saying what they had agreed.
Anwar added, “I am satisfied with his position, that it is the principle that we need to uphold. The reform agenda must be continued.” He described the meeting as having been “very good”.
On Sunday (February 23), Anwar had accused Mahathir’s party and “traitors” in his own party of plotting to form a new government with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the former ruling party ousted in 2018 amid graft accusations.
Sources said Mahathir’s party and a faction in Anwar’s party met officials from UMNO and the Islamist party PAS in efforts to form a new coalition and possibly back Mahathir to serve out a full five-year term as prime minister.
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is looking to bolster its ties with Malaysia amid improving COVID-19 situation in Southeast Asia, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.
In a statement, the DFA said that the department’s Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Neal Imperial met with Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Norman bin Muhammad last Oct. 18.
Among the things discussed by the two officials were initiatives seeking to revitalize the two nations’ relations across all areas amid easing coronavirus pandemic situation, it added.
“The two officials exchanged views and proposals on how to further boost bilateral trade and investment, address the COVID-19 pandemic, and roll out post-pandemic recovery initiatives, including the careful reopening of borders to gradually revitalize business and two-way tourism,” the DFA said.
The department said that both parties have also discussed counterterrorism cooperation, the promotion of moderate Islam in predominantly Muslim areas, as well as Malaysia’s support for the development of Mindanao.
The two officials also agreed to continue working together to further enhance Philippines-Malaysia bilateral ties, and explore the possibility of reconvening high-level bilateral meetings early next year.
Despite the effects of the pandemic, Malaysia remains one of the Philippines’ top trading partners and investment sources.
During their meeting, Imperial also conveyed the congratulations of the Philippine Government to Malaysia’s newly elected government, the DFA said.
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to lift the current travel restrictions on travelers from 10 countries starting September 6, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced in a statement on Saturday.
These countries are namely: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Nonetheless, international travelers coming from the said countries shall comply with the appropriate entry, testing and quarantine protocols, depending on the country’s approved “listing,” Roque said.
He added that the IATF has adopted the “Yellow” and “Red” classifications, in addition to the “Green List” countries/jurisdictions/territories.
Roque said this is based on the countries’ respective incidence rates and case counts as primary criteria, and testing data as secondary criteria. The incidence rate is the cumulative new cases over the past 28 days per 100,000 population while case counts are cumulative new cases over the past 28 days.
The government first imposed the travel restrictions on India in April then later expanded to include more countries to stem the spread of Delta variant, the highly transmissible strain of COVID-19.
Some 120 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) repatriated from the neighboring country of Malaysia have returned home.
The government of Davao City said the repatriated Filipinos landed at the Davao City International Airport via a chartered Philippine Airlines flight on Monday.
Davao City Tourism Operations Office (CTOO) chief Generose Tecson said the repatriated OFWs will head to different cities and provinces as their final destination.
As in previous repatriation flights to the city, the OFWs will be staying at the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ)-certified and Department of Tourism (DOT)-accredited multi-use hotels.
“They will undergo a 14-day quarantine and will be released on the 15th day. They will be swabbed on the seventh day,” Tecson was quoted as saying in a statement by the city government.
“If positive, they will be brought to the Van City for isolation and monitoring,” she added.
The OFWs presented negative RT-PCR results before boarding their flight since Davao City is enforcing an ordinance that requires mandatory testing prior to entry into the Davao City via the Davao International Airport.
Tight security is also being implemented in quarantine facilities where the OFWs are staying to keep them from going around the city.
Aside from OFWs from Malaysia, a batch of 382 OFWs from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates also arrived in the city on August 6.
This is part of the national government’s repatriation program for Filipinos stranded abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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