Why did Muhyiddin resign and make a U-turn?

SOME political analysts are saying that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s decision to resign before U-turning on his decision is a gimmick to test his level of support in Bersatu but I beg to differ.

I think his offer to resign was genuine. I had already predicted that Muhyiddin would resign after the Aug 12 six state elections on numerous articles.

The crux of the matter is that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman is not a wartime leader. If PN was already reigning in Putrajaya, then Muhyiddin is the right leader that it can count on to maintain its reign but to wrest Putrajaya from Pakatan Harapan (PH), then Muhyiddin is the wrong leader.

PN needs a leader who can punch its way up to Putrajaya but the Pagoh MP is not the leader that PN can expect him to be. Muhyiddin simply doesn’t have the killer instinct. He is not gangster enough and I don’t mean that as a compliment.

Anwar has so many flaws and shortcomings that makes him vulnerable yet Muhyiddin just doesn’t seem to be able to exploit it.

By my reckoning, political writers, columnists and analysts in Malaysia are pressuring and exposing Anwar’s flaws and shortcomings at three times the rate that Muhyiddin is doing it when by right, Muhyiddin should be exposing and pressuring Anwar three times the rate that we are doing it.

Weak leadership

Anwar is so weak that even without Muhyiddin doing anything, his approval rating has dipped from 68% to 50% in less than a year. Had Muhyiddin led PN to do more – who knows – Anwar might be biting the dust right now.

From the day that Muhyiddin lost Putrajaya to Anwar in the aftermath of the 15th General Election (GE 15), Muhyiddin has been losing the initiative and momentum to Anwar again and again and again although he was the first leader who managed to secure the majority of MPs to his side.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (front row, seated far right) at Bersatu’s recent general assembly

I am sure that there are many people in PN who are disappointed with Muhyiddin’s leadership because his leadership since GE15 has indeed been disappointing.

It is precisely because they are disappointed with Muhyiddin’s leadership that there is a move to bring Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad back into the picture.

Muhyiddin probably knows that he is disappointing many people in PN and as a gentleman that I feel he is, he likely has been looking for an honourable way to step down for a long time.

Rather than be humiliated by having a 100-year-old Mahathir replace him as the effective head of PN while he is sidelined to the role of a figurehead, to announce that he will not seek re-election as the Bersatu president at the party’s general assembly is definitely the more honourable way to bow out of the political scene.

That being the case, then why did Muhyiddin make a U-turn? I think that this is so because none of the second in command in Bersatu are ready to replace him.

No willing successor

Now that he has expressed his desire to resign, his second in command will finally be free to canvas for support within the party without being seen as sowing the seeds of divisiveness and discord within Bersatu.

Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin

While Muhyiddin took back his intention to resign after he expressed it, I feel that we will only truly know whether Muhyiddin will stay or leave when the Bersatu election commences.

As a condition for him to stay, I also suspect that all of Bersatu’s second in command have also agreed that they will oppose the move to bring Dr Mahathir back into the picture and that they themselves will launch an offensive against Anwar without requiring Muhyiddin to do anything more than what he is doing now.

Muhyiddin, too, is probably staying on because in his heart, he is hoping that PN will be able to capture Putrajaya soon.

While Muhyiddin probably knows that many in PN do not see him as the right leader, the need to capture Putrajaya could likely convince PN that he is the right leader to maintain PN’s reign in the Malaysian administrative capital. – Nov 27, 2023


Nehru Sathiamoorthy is a roving tutor who loves politics, philosophy and psychology.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Main pic credit: HarakahDaily

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