Long overshadowed by colorful contemporaries, the man who yesterday emerged from a week of turmoil as Malaysia’s new prime minister is a publicity-shy picture of conservatism.
When Muhyiddin Yassin, 72, heard news on Saturday that the king had picked him over 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, the outspoken leader who has dominated Malaysian politics for decades, he immediately dropped to the carpet in tears to give thanks to Allah.
“He is a very serious, boring man,” said one person who has worked with him for years and did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
“Probably that is what Malaysia needs now rather than a camera-hunting, publicity-stunt type of man,” the person said.
A conservative Muslim from the majority Malay community, Muhyiddin staked his claim to the premiership when Mahathir failed to rally support for a unity government after his shock resignation as prime minister on Monday last week.
Muhyiddin is a Malay nationalist and he drew support from the former ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and Islamist party PAS, who were defeated in 2018 by a multi-ethnic coalition under Mahathir that promised to fight corruption.
“I am a Malay first, I want to say that, but being Malay does not mean that you are not Malaysian,” Muhyiddin said in 2010.
Such sentiment struck a chord at a time of disaffection within the Malay majority over a perceived loss of privileges under Mahathir’s government.
“Like a good striker he saw the opening he did not expect, and took advantage to score,” Malaysian lawyer Zaid Ibrahim said about the low-profile Muhyiddin, who was minister of home affairs under Mahathir.
Mahathir and Muhyiddin were from the same Bersatu party and the former prime minister said that he felt betrayed by a man he accused of plotting with UMNO to bring it back, despite the corruption charges now facing some of its top officials.
“Muhyiddin is willing to accept anything. He says politics is more important than principles,” Mahathir said, vowing to call for a session of parliament to test whether Muhyiddin had a majority.
Muhyiddin did not immediately respond to the accusations.
After Muhyiddin was sworn in, his office said that he would not be speaking to media that day.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around