After becoming Malaysia’s Prime Minister on 29 February, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has a lot on his hands to steer the country out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
When he first came into power, one of Muhyiddin’s first moves was to enforce the Movement Control Order (MCO), a measure taken to restrict movement among the rakyat and lowering the risk of a widespread infection.
After that, he frequently made television appearances to address the country on the fight against the pandemic.
One of his speeches was even made into a song that went viral.
After more than a month with the economy was put to a standstill, the collateral effects of the virus are now evident with many expected to be jobless, one of the many problems that Malaysians now face.
There are some positives from the pandemic with the country managing to somewhat control the rate of infections, prompting the government to slowly allowing businesses to open.
A polarising figure, Muhyiddin is a veteran in Malaysia’s political landscape. We take a look at his history before he came out on top of a political crisis to become the country’s latest Prime Minister.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was born on May 15, 1947, in Muar and received his early education at Sekolah Kebangsaan Bandar Maharani, Muar before attending Muar High School.
He then furthered his studies in Universiti Malaya from 1968 until 1970 where he received his Degree in Economics and Malay Studies.
Muhyiddin then married his wife, Puan Sri Noorainee Abdul Rahman two years later and they have four children.
Among them is the local singer, Najwa Mahiadin.
Joining into politics
Muhyiddin started joining into politics in 1971 where he joined UMNO Pagoh as a member for five years before he was elected as Pagoh Umno Youth Chief and Division Secretary in 1976.
At the age of 31, he won Pagoh’s parliamentary seat during the General Elections in 1978 and became the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs three years after that.
In 1982, Muhyiddin continued his rise both in government and UMNO as he was chosen to become the Deputy Federal Territories Minister, Johor Umno Youth chief and joining Umno’s Youth Exco all in the same year.
A year later, he jumped to another Ministry, this time becoming the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry in 1983.
In 1984, he was chosen as Pagoh’s UMNO Chief, defeating former Johor Chief Minister, Tan Sri Osman Saat but failed to become part of the high council due to lack of votes.
Becoming Menteri Besar
1986 is the year when Muhyiddin won the Bukit Serampang state legislative seat and became Johor’s fourth Chief Minister.
He was also the chair for UMNO Johor’s liaison body at the time.
In 1990, he defended his DUN seat and entered his second term as Johor’s Chief Minister but wasn’t so lucky in the party elections as he lost out to Anwar Ibrahim for the Vice President post in the same year.
He finally won in 1993 to become the Vice President alongside Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former Selangor chief, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, as Anwar moved up to become UMNO’s Deputy President.
He contested in the ninth General Election in 1995 and defended his Pagoh parliament seat but didn’t extend his term as Johor’s Chief Minister.
Close, but no cigar
In 1995, Muhyiddin was appointed into Dr Mahathir’s cabinet as Youth and Sports Minister but he failed to defend his position in UMNO a year later in 1996.
He won in 1999 for Pagoh’s parliamentary seat and became Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs soon after.
During the UMNO elections in 2000, he regained the Vice President post, holding the position for 8 years.
4 years later in 2004, he won his parliamentary seat again in Pagoh and before being elected as the Minister of Agriculture during Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration.
In 2008 when BN was starting to lose votes to Pakatan Harapan, Muhyiddin comfortably defended his seat and subsequently became the Minister of International Trade and Industry.
The year after he had become Deputy Prime Minister and also Minister of Education under Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s government when the latter became Malaysia’s sixth Prime Minister.
In October of the same year (2009), he contested against Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib to take the UMNO Deputy President post.
A year later, he was involved with a controversy revolving around his statement of being “Malay first” as a response to DAP leader Lim Kit Siang who challenged him to state whether he is a Malay or a Malaysian first.
He added soon after that despite being “Malay” first, he is still a Malaysian and also said that he would be shunned by all the Malays if he were to say that he is a Malaysian first and a Malay second.
He continued to carry on the post until 2015 when he was relinquished of the Deputy Prime Minister position after questioning Najib’s involvement in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and RM2.6 billion donation issues.
Muhyiddin was eventually replaced by then Home Minister and UMNO Vice President, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi but retained his seat in UMNO as Deputy President.
He openly criticised Najib’s government a day before UMNO’s General Assembly but was not allowed to give his speech during the convention.
Muhyiddin was later suspended as Deputy President until the coming election and his role was taken over by Zahid.
After UMNO, he began to attend PAS events where he would give speeches alongside the party’s top brass.
UMNO politicians have downplayed his involvement with PAS by labelling him “desperate” to bring down the previous government.
He then joined forces with Dr Mahathir, who also left UMNO around the same time to form Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), a party that offers full memberships to bumiputeras, while non-bumiputeras can be associate members.
In 2018, he was treated for pancreatic cancer at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore for a month to remove a tumour before returning back to Malaysia.
Bersatu was part of the coalition that brought down Barisan Nasional in 2018, after more than 60 years in power.
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