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‘Gentleman’ Muhyiddin earns praise for putting people first

One analyst says it answers a familiar accusation that the Bersatu leader is power-crazy.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli and Aliff Fikri
2 minute read
A woman watches the special address by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur, Aug 16. Photo: Bernama
A woman watches the special address by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur, Aug 16. Photo: Bernama

A political analyst has described Muhyiddin Yassin’s move to resign at the peak of the country’s political turmoil as the act of a “gentleman”, commending him for not clinging to power after losing his majority support in Parliament.

Ahmad Marthada Mohamed of Universiti Utara Malaysia said this was in the wake of criticism by several politicians who had said Muhyiddin was willing to hang on to power despite no longer possessing the support of the majority.

“The people should appreciate his decision to resign as he placed their interests above his own,” Marthada told MalaysiaNow.

Muhyiddin, the Pagoh MP, submitted his resignation to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong during an audience with the king at Istana Negara yesterday.

This came after 15 MPs from Umno led by their president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former prime minister Najib Razak withdrew their support for Muhyiddin and his Perikatan Nasional government.

Muhyiddin later said in a speech explaining his resignation that he would never interfere in the running of the judiciary to save politicians who are facing multiple corruption charges.

Without the support of the Umno MPs, Muhyiddin was left with the backing of 100 MPs while 120 opposed him.

However, the question remains of which MP possesses enough support in Parliament to form a new government.

Marthada said Muhyiddin’s speech yesterday could be seen as a form of preparation for the 15th general election.

“I believe the best solution would be to have an election to prevent instability in the government after this,” he said, but admitted that the pandemic did not allow this option at the moment.

Seasoned analyst Jeniri Amir said Muhyiddin’s speech was a message to the people of the challenges and difficulties of administering the country during the Covid-19 crisis.

“In my opinion, Muhyiddin’s government was not the worst, neither was it the best,” he told MalaysiaNow.

“He was faced with many challenges including Covid-19 and the whims of some non-functioning ministers.”

He noted how Muhyiddin’s government had managed to boost Malaysia’s rate of vaccination against Covid-19, which is currently ranked among the fastest in the world.

Muhyiddin had previously said that he would face a vote of confidence in the Dewan Rakyat during the September sitting of the lower house.

An offer of a cross-party consensus in exchange for support was rejected by the opposition, who hailed his resignation as in line with the constitution.

Adib Zalkapli, director of Bower Group Asia, said Muhyiddin’s resignation had saved his political legacy.

“He reminded the people about the situation when he was sacked in 2015, which was a watershed moment not only in his political career but also for the political landscape of the country,” he said.

Muhyiddin was appointed as prime minister on March 1, 2020 following the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government in February, after a series of audiences by MPs with the Agong to determine who had the majority support to form the government.

He will function as a caretaker prime minister until the appointment of a new leader who commands the majority support in Parliament.