PETALING JAYA: Muhyiddin Yassin’s public credibility as prime minister is a product of his long history in Umno, says a political analyst who takes issue with Khairy Jamaluddin’s assertion that others lack Muhyiddin’s charisma.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia lecturer Azmi Hassan said Muhyiddin’s standing in the eyes of the public came from his days in Umno, not from PPBM, the party he co-founded after leaving Umno.
“So it is a bit awkward when Khairy claims that there is no other leader who has enough of a status to be considered for the prime ministership. There are more people in Umno who have the right authority,” said Azmi.
He said Umno had a long history of producing national leaders who rose from the grassroots, and Muhyiddin was one of them.
Last week, Khairy, a former Umno Youth leader and minister, was quoted in a news report saying that an opinion poll on public acceptance of Muhyiddin backed his view of Muhyiddin’s standing.
There was no one other than Muhyiddin to head the current government, whether from Umno, PAS or PPBM. “The question of the (prime minister after the next general election) is still under discussion,” Khairy had said.
But Azmi said Khairy’s statement was personal. He speculated on the reasons behind Khairy’s comment, saying perhaps Khairy did not want to be accused of being interested in the post himself.
“He is part of Umno and should be able to assess for himself whether there are competent leaders in Umno. Maybe Khairy said so because he does not want to be accused of being biased in favour of Umno. Maybe Khairy does not want the Perikatan Nasional government to be unstable, which is why he expressed support for Muhyiddin,” Azmi said.
However, Khairy’s statement could be read as a challenge to Umno leaders to prove that the party would trigger a process to produce the best candidate for the prime ministership.
Another analyst, Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia, said other Umno and PAS leaders had not been given the opportunity to lead the country and their credibility had not been tested.
“Potential national leaders from Umno and PAS lacked the opportunity to show their mettle because of Muhyiddin’s performance after being appointed prime minister,” Kamarul said.
Kamarul said the question of who would succeed Muhyiddin was not being discussed because of a wish to avoid politicking, although each political party would definitely have its own candidate.