(Bloomberg) -- A Malaysian opposition leader warned that the nation’s currency slide to a 26-year-low is eroding confidence in Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s government, piling on economic pressures that includes delayed reforms and moderating growth.

“Key in this situation now is confidence and trust in the government,” former premier Muhyiddin Yassin said in an interview on Thursday. He said people are wondering “if it’s geopolitical,” as the government says, then why is Malaysia’s currency performing among the worst.

The ringgit’s recent slump is the latest addition to Anwar’s woes since he rose to power in late 2022. This week, the currency briefly slipped past 4.8 against the dollar, its weakest level since the Asian financial crisis.

Economists have also trimmed their forecast for Malaysia’s growth this year to 4.3% after expansion came in slower than expected in 2023. That’s all become ammunition for a vocal opposition accused by Anwar’s allies of stoking instability in an already fragile ruling coalition.

Muhyiddin, who leads the Malay-majority opposition alliance Perikatan Nasional and whose son-in-law was set to be charged by Anwar’s administration with graft, said economic weakness is triggering widespread anger toward the government. Anwar, who doubles as finance minister, has already come under fire for initially deferring the issue to the central bank governor, who said the ringgit’s performance was influenced by external factors.

Anwar has conceded that the ringgit’s fall was “concerning” and the government was monitoring the situation. The currency has slid by about 4% so far in 2024 as China’s sluggish economy hurt exports from Malaysia. Some analysts have said there is further risk the currency will weaken to record lows.

“What is important for us is to focus on what we can do and what we should do, and we are doing it on a daily basis,” Anwar told reporters on Friday. “We are not ignoring it or taking it lightly. It’s a daily effort to make sure things work.”

Any initial jubilation over the former political prisoner’s premiership has started to fade with his approval rating falling from 68% to 50%, according to a poll by Merdeka Center for Opinion Research conducted last October. Perikatan Nasional also made significant gains during provincial elections last year.

While Anwar and his allies say the government remains strong, the opposition is counting on waning support to force him into an early exit before his term ends in 2028, a move that risks renewed instability in a country that’s seen four prime ministers in five years.

Moody’s Investors Service said last month that entrenched concerns around government stability could hamper Malaysia’s longer-term economic competitiveness. 

Those concerns have re-emerged in recent months on reports that Muhyiddin’s coalition sought to convince government lawmakers to defect. Anwar has dismissed attempts to destabilize his government as ineffective, while leaders from Perikatan Nasional have denied being part of such a plot.

To be sure, Anwar commands a super-majority support in parliament after half a dozen MPs from Muhyiddin’s party recently said they backed the current government. The prime minister’s allies have likewise urged the nation’s politicians to stop undermining the government.

The former prime minister is less confident in Anwar’s leadership.

“A lot of members of parliament will decide based on their own constituents’ thinking, that this is not the right way forward,” Muhyiddin said. “They must make change happen.”

--With assistance from Netty Ismail and Clarissa Batino.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.