KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the tough choices he made for Malaysia at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic would be enough to carry his Perikatan Nasional to victory in the 15th general election.
Despite being pressured into resigning the post last year, Muhyiddin told Nikkei Asia in an interview that he believed Malaysians appreciated the unprecedented measures he took to safeguard their lives and livelihoods.
“What I had done for the last two years in managing not just the Covid-19 pandemic, but the economy has had a positive impact towards the people,” Muhyiddin was quoted as saying.
Covid-19 arrived in Malaysia shortly after the so-called “Sheraton Move” that saw Muhyiddin becoming prime minister in the wake of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s sudden resignation.
One of Muhyiddin’s earliest moves was to enforce a movement control order (MCO) — the first and strictest of many — that effectively brought the entire country, barring essential services, to a near standstill.
While Malaysians are still divided over this, Muhyiddin told Nikkei that he did not regret locking down the country then.
“People are unhappy when they are not allowed to move all the time, but when times like that (Covid-19) happen, this was the best solution we had,” he said.
Despite stepping down as the PM, Muhyiddin has still played an active role in the country’s recovery as he was named the chairman of the National Recovery Council that helped guide measures in this direction.
Malaysia began transitioning towards Covid-19 endemicity in May this year.
Since the start of the pandemic, Malaysia has recorded over 4.9 million cases and 36,522 deaths. When Muhyiddin resigned as the prime minister on August 16, 2021, the two figures were 1.4 million cases and 13,077 deaths.