Malaysian opposition leader makes U-turn on stepping down as party president

Last Updated on November 25, 2023 12:51 pm

Malaysia’s former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Saturday he aimed to contest the presidency of his party during internal elections next year, a day after vowing to step down from the post.

Muhyiddin had said it was time to pass the leadership of his Bersatu party to a new team, raising questions over who would lead the Malay-dominated opposition alliance as the former premier is one of its few leaders with broad appeal.

“I will stay for the last term (as Bersatu president),” Muhyiddin said in a speech at the annual meeting of Bersatu, which leads the Perikatan Nasional opposition bloc along with a conservative Islamist party.

Muhyiddin, who led Malaysia for 17 months between 2020 and 2021, said he made his decision to stay on after consulting his wife.

It remains unclear, however, if any members of Bersatu will challenge him for the presidency during next year’s party elections.

The opposition made inroads among Malaysia’s majority ethnic-Malay Muslims during regional polls in August and last year’s general election.

Its popularity among more traditional Malays and young voters is seen as a threat to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s progressive, multi-ethnic alliance.

Muhyiddin has served as president of Bersatu since its formation in 2016 and he also chairs the Perikatan Nasional opposition bloc.

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