New Malaysia Leader Says He’s Not a ‘Traitor,’ Vows to Fight Graft

(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia’s new Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has pledged to fight corruption and strengthen governance, saying he is no traitor but stepped in to save the country from political turmoil.

“I know there are those who are angry with me,” he said last night in his first televised address to the nation as prime minister. “As expected, there are parties who called me a traitor. Listen carefully, I’m not a traitor.”

New Malaysia Leader Says He’s Not a ‘Traitor,’ Vows to Fight Graft

Muhyiddin, 72, was named prime minister on Saturday by the country’s monarch after a weeklong struggle for power following Mahathir Mohamad’s sudden resignation amid bickering in his former coalition. The new ruling alliance consists of defectors like Muhyiddin who aligned with the Barisan Nasional coalition that lost power in 2018 after running the country for six decades.

Mahathir had said he felt “betrayed” by Muhyiddin, until recently his right-hand man, and seeks an urgent confidence vote in parliament to show he has the numbers to form a government. The political uncertainty, combined with a global equity selloff, sent Malaysian stocks tumbling to an eight-year low on Monday.

“I do not crave the Prime Minister post,” Muhyiddin said. “I only stepped forward to save the situation when both candidates for Prime Minister did not get majority support,” he said, referring to Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim who were in the running.

Muhyiddin also pledged to continue with the previous government’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, a move to push for equitable development and to elevate living standards.

“For a start, I promise to appoint cabinet ministers from among those who are clean, have integrity, and capable,” he said. “My government will also give priority to efforts to improve integrity and good governance.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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