Malaysia opposition leader Muhyiddin Yassin to step down as party president

Malaysia’s former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Friday he would step down next year as president of his party, raising questions over who will lead the Malay-dominated opposition alliance.

Muhyiddin, who led Malaysia for 17 months between 2020 and 2021, has served as the Bersatu party’s president since its formation in 2016, and he chairs the Perikatan Nasional (PN) opposition bloc.

A conservative Islamist party is a key component in the opposition alliance, and if Muhyiddin were to relinquish the chair it could rob the PN of one of the few leaders with broad appeal.

Bridget Welsh, political analyst at University of Nottingham Malaysia, said Bersatu would lose the “pull factor” it had during recent elections, and Muhyiddin’s departure could lead to infighting.

Having performed well in last year’s general election, the PN made further inroads among the country’s majority ethnic-Malay Muslims during regional polls in August.

While Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s progressive, multi-ethnic alliance appeals to the country’s minorities and urban Malays, the PN, led by Muhyiddin, has garnered support from more traditional Malays and young voters.


Former Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin charged with corruption

Former Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin charged with corruption

Malaysia is a multiracial, multi-faith country with ethnic-Malay Muslims accounting for over 60 per cent of the population while ethnic Indians and Chinese form sizeable minorities.

Muhyiddin told his party on Friday that he would not run for party president during internal leadership elections next year.

“The time for me to pass on the party leadership to a new team of leaders has arrived,” he said in a speech to Bersatu’s annual party meeting.

Party secretary general Hamzah Zainuddin was likely to emerge as the next Bersatu president, according to Welsh.

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