KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has rebuffed the accusation that Perikatan Nasional (PN) is weak as Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin was instead appointed as Opposition Leader in the Dewan Rakyat.
The PN chairman and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president reportedly said that he is training Hamzah to lead the coalition, especially in the Parliament, since the 66-year-old is “younger” and considered a “fresh face”.
“I thought that since I was once the leader of the government, the opportunity of Opposition Leader should be given to Hamzah as the PN and Bersatu secretary-general.
“I don’t want to monopolise everything. I am known as a former prime minister, so parliamentary duties should be given to a younger person,” Muhyiddin told Free Malaysia Today.
He reportedly said he had offered the post to PN ally PAS, as it holds the highest number of MPs in the coalition at 43 — but the Islamist party had declined the post.
The former prime minister said Hamzah still has room for improvement despite performing his duties well as the Opposition Leader, adding that the latter is still new to the post.
Muhyiddin’s comment came after criticisms by Umno veteran Tan Sri Shahrir Samad who said Bersatu would not have been in turmoil — with four of its MPs supporting the government — had the former prime minister assumed the role of Opposition Leader instead.
“For me, this is not a sign of weakness,” he reportedly said.
In Malaysia, the Opposition Leader is by convention the leader of the largest political party in the Dewan Rakyat that is not in government.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was previously the Opposition Leader when he led the then-opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH).
In 2018, Barisan Nasional broke from the convention when it appointed Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as the Opposition Leader to replace Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who went on garden leave following his court cases.