PETALING JAYA: After tendering his resignation to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said he could have stayed on as prime minister if he had gone against his principles and cooperated with kleptocrats instead.
"I could've taken the easy way out by sacrificing my principles to stay on as prime minister. But that is not my choice.
"I will never be in cahoots with the kleptocrat group, to disrupt the independence of the judiciary and to undermine the Constitution just to maintain power," the caretaker Prime Minister said during a special address at 3pm on Monday (Aug 16).
Without naming anyone, Muhyiddin is believed to be referring to a group of MPs who recently retracted support for the Perikatan Nasional government, among a sequence of events, which led to Muhyiddin's resignation as prime minister on Monday (Aug 15).
Among the MPs in the group are Umno MPs currently facing court charges known as the "court cluster", which refers to Bagan Datuk MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Pekan MP Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan and Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, Kinabatangan MP Bung Moktar, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng and Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.
Citing Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution, Muhyiddin said he could not stay on as premier.
"Many Malaysians pleaded for me to stay and not resign – but I could not do this as I had lost the confidence of the majority of MPs."
Muhyiddin said the political events which triggered his resignation as prime minister was God's will and marked an episode in his political career.
He also looked back at his political career, where he was sacked as deputy prime minister by Najib after he spoke up on the 1MDB issue.
"I fought and I sacrificed, at last Allah gave me the duty to lead this country as prime minister.
"However, It was fated that today (Aug 16) is my last day as prime minister and I accept it," he said.
Muhyiddin said being a prime minister came with great responsibility, especially when leading the country during an unprecedented health crisis.
"At the same time, I was being politically threatened," he added.
Expressing gratitude to Cabinet members, Muhyiddin also apologised to Malaysians for his mistakes during his tenure as prime minister.
"I and the Cabinet have tried our best to save lives and protect jobs. However, as humans, there were mistakes made here and there. For that I'm sorry."
He said the coming two months will be critical because Malaysia will reach herd immunity by October.
"Plans outlined in the National Recovery Plan cannot be delayed and economic sectors must be reopened in order to ensure that the economy recovers quickly and the people will have better income to sustain their families and themselves."
On Monday (Aug 16), Istana Negara Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Ahmad Fadli Shamsuddin said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had accepted the Muhyiddin's and the Cabinet's resignation with immediate effect.
Umno and Bersatu leaders are huddled in multiple meetings within their own parties following Muhyiddin's resignation.