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Muhyiddin’s decision not to defend presidency ‘due to internal pressure’
Published on: Saturday, November 25, 2023
By: FMT, Ainin Wan Salleh
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Muhyiddin’s decision not to defend presidency ‘due to internal pressure’
Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin had said he was aware of calls for a change in the party leadership.
PETALING JAYA: Analysts have attributed Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin’s decision to not defend his post in next year’s party polls to “internal pressure”, especially concerning the succession of leadership within the party.

Akademi Nusantara’s Azmi Hassan said that after the six state elections on Aug 12, Bersatu seemed to have “lost its direction and vibrance”.

“The main issue is the internal bickering over who will be the next (party) president, because Muhyiddin has lost his grip on Bersatu,” he told FMT.

Azmi said the four Bersatu MPs who recently threw their support for Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s leadership could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for Muhyiddin.

The MPs are Iskandar Dzulkarnain Abdul Khalid (Kuala Kangsar), Suhaili Abdul Rahman (Labuan), Azizi Abu Naim (Gua Musang) and Zahari Kechik (Jeli).

“The reason being given (for switching their support) is because of allocations. No, it’s not due to allocations but because these four MPs have lost confidence in Bersatu’s leadership,” Azmi said.

On Thursday, Muhyiddin told delegates at Bersatu’s general assembly it was time for him to let go of the reins of the party, leading to cries of “no” from the crowd.

Asked if Muhyiddin’s decision would strengthen Bersatu, Azmi said yes, provided current party secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin is next in line to lead the party.

James Chin of the University of Tasmania echoed Azmi’s views, saying that Hamzah’s “decisiveness” as a leader would put Bersatu on a firmer footing.

As to why Muhyiddin made the decision to not contest in the next party polls, Chin said it is too early to speculate. However, if he were to hazard a guess, it was due to “too much pressure internally” with “many asking Hamzah to challenge him”.

Last week, FMT quoted Muhyiddin as saying he was aware of calls for a change in the party leadership, including by Eddin Syazlee Shith, a Bersatu Supreme Council member, who earlier said a reshuffle was needed to fill a “void” in the party.

Muhyiddin said while party elections allowed for members to choose their leaders, he was worried that such democratic practices would lead to division within Bersatu, “like what occurred in Umno”.

Several grassroots leaders told FMT they were worried about the party’s future following Muhyiddin’s announcement that he would not defend his post, with one saying he should stay on at least until after the 16th general election.

Rumours of a rift between Muhyiddin and Hamzah over the direction the party was taking surfaced in June. Ketereh MP Khlir Nor denied such claims, saying it was all made up by the party’s rivals.

Muhyiddin, who was the prime minister from 2020 to 2021, told FMT he was “training” Hamzah by making him the opposition leader, a role traditionally assumed by the head of a party or coalition.

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