Muhyiddin Yassin Emerge As Top Contender For Malaysia PM
Muhyiddin Yassin, a low-profile political insider from Malaysia, has emerged as a leading candidate to succeed the current prime minister after forming an alliance with an Islamist party.
When Muhyiddin resigned from his first term as premier last year, he had the shortest tenure of any leader in Malaysia. However, he may now be able to secure the necessary support to win Saturday’s poll, which had no clear winner.
He is the leader of the Perikatan Nasional (National Alliance) coalition, which placed second in the election on Saturday but is currently negotiating to create the next administration.
Muhyiddin’s partnership with the Malaysian Islamic Party, or PAS, which supports a strict interpretation of Islamic law, will be beneficial to those negotiations.
In March 2020, Muhyiddin was appointed prime minister for the first time after a reformist alliance that had won historic elections in 2018 collapsed. He did this by outwitting his charismatic rivals Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim.
However, the 75-year-old former interior minister left the top position in August 2021, only 17 months after taking it over, as his coalition was torn apart by savage infighting and growing public resentment over how he handled the coronavirus outbreak.
His appointment by Malaysia’s king, rather than by popular vote, prompted charges that he lacked legitimacy. His support in parliament also remained tenuous, and he battled to control rival groups within his coalition.
His period, according to Bridget Welsh, a Malaysia specialist from the University of Nottingham, had been consumed by attempting to survive.
Muhyiddin Yassin, known as the “poster boy,” gained prominence because to his connections to Najib Razak, a powerful politician who is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption.
He joined the United Malays National Organization, Najib’s party, in 1971. (UMNO).
He rose up the ranks to become chief minister of southern Johor state, which is home to the majority of Malay Muslims in the nation, and later held important positions in the federal administration.
But in 2015, after criticizing the massive fraud involving the state fund 1MDB and being fired, he split with Najib.
Najib was accused of stealing substantial sums from 1MDB; these accusations helped his coalition lose the 2018 election and resulted in his imprisonment.
Muhyiddin Yassin later joined a party founded by Mahathir Mohamad, a 97-year-old political elder statesman in Malaysia, and assisted in the overthrow of Najib and UMNO.
He re-joined forces with UMNO last year in a u-turn typical of Malaysia’s erratic politics in order to garner enough support to become premier.
However, numerous of the party’s MPs withdrew their support after he refused to become involved in corruption proceedings against some of them, leaving him without a legislative majority.
In his Pagoh district, Muhyiddin Yassin outpolled his closest competitor by more than 10,000 votes on Saturday.
As the face of Perikatan Nasional during the election, Muhyiddin’s popularity still shines through, according to Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani, deputy managing director of the consultancy firm BowerGroupAsia.
His portrayal of himself as someone opposed to corruption truly resonated with voters during the election campaign, particularly as he came under pressure to resign as prime minister from Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Najib’s UMNO allies.