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Muhyiddin Was Only Testing the Waters, Say Analysts

PETALING JAYA: Muhyiddin Yassin’s initial decision not to defend the Bersatu presidency, followed by his subsequent reversal, was a strategic move aimed at gauging support from party members, analysts say.

Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara said the unanimous vote by the party’s leaders for Muhyiddin to stay on suggests that the former prime minister has substantial support.

While Muhyiddin previously seemed to have the backing of delegates, the support from top party leaders had been uncertain, he said.

Azmi had previously said internal pressure could be a likely factor behind Muhyiddin’s decision to not defend his post in next year’s party polls, especially after four of Bersatu’s MPs pledged their support for Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

“Before this, I thought he wanted to let a fresh face take over the presidency, but I was mistaken. He actually wants to test the situation (to see) whether he has support or not,” he told FMT.

Azmi said among the contenders for the presidency were secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin, deputy president Ahmad Faizal Azumu and Supreme Council member Azmin Ali.

All three seem poised to potentially assume the post with Muhyiddin’s exit, with Azmin planning to contest the presidency in the next term, he said.

James Chin of the University of Tasmania said Muhyiddin’s U-turn could be in response to the level of support he received, or due to fear the party might split if he stepped down.

However, Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said this episode was typical of seasoned politicians, using such tactics to “test the waters”.

Despite speculation that his earlier announcement was a gimmick, Muhyiddin insisted that it was a genuine decision.

The Bersatu general assembly unanimously rejected his initial decision, and the Supreme Council also opposed it at an emergency meeting.

Muhyiddin’s about-turn came a day after he expressed his intention not to defend his post. He said his wife’s encouragement made him change his mind.

He said she had advised him not to forsake the party’s members who still needed him.

Source : FMT