KUALA LUMPUR: Mr Muhyiddin Yassin said he stepped forward to “save the situation” as the other prime minister candidates did not command majority support in the Malaysian parliament, while denying allegations that he was a traitor.
In his maiden speech as Malaysia’s eighth prime minister on Monday (Mar 2), he also pledged to build a clean government that has integrity and is free of corruption.
“I know there are people who are angry at me. As predicted, there are certain quarters who call me a traitor.
“Listen carefully. I am not a traitor. My conscience is clear that I am here to save the country from continuous turmoil,” he said in a televised address.
Mr Muhyiddin was sworn in on Sunday after a week-long power struggle in Putrajaya, which was triggered by Dr Mahathir Mohamad's resignation as the seventh prime minister.
Mr Muhyiddin pulled Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) out of the then-ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan as the party president to join forces with United Malays National Organisation, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia and several other political parties.
The palace issued a statement on Saturday, saying the king had found that Mr Muhyiddin likely commanded the support of the majority of the Members of Parliament (MPs).
This, however, is disputed by Dr Mahathir, who claims that he commands a majority and has called for an early parliamentary sitting so that lawmakers can express officially whether they support Mr Muhyiddin.
In his speech, Mr Muhyiddin explained that he has never hoped for the prime minister post.
The opportunity only arose when both prime minister candidates failed to obtain the majority support of the House, and his name was nominated by Bersatu MPs and other party leaders who believed he commands the majority.
"I had taken time to think deeply before making a decision. What choices did I have? To continue supporting Dr Mahathir who did not have majority support or to accept the nomination as prime minister?
"If I continued to support Dr Mahathir, the political tumult will be prolonged. There are chances that parliament will be dissolved and a general election will be held," he said.
CLEAN GOVERNMENT FREE OF CORRUPTION
Mr Muhyiddin said he is aware that the people want a government that is clean, has integrity and free of corruption.
“To begin with, I promise to appoint Cabinet members from among individuals who are clean and have integrity and calibre.
“The government under my leadership will also prioritise efforts to enhance integrity and good governance. These include efforts to curb corruption and abuse of power by strengthening enforcement and streamlining relevant laws, regulations and practices,” he said.
READ: Malaysia's new PM Muhyiddin Yassin takes office amid economic challenges
The 72-year-old promised to give priority to providing quality, affordable healthcare services, and draw from his six years of experience as education minister to improve the quality of education.
He also promised to implement the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, a development model launched by Dr Mahathir in May last year that aims at boosting economic growth and bridging the income and wealth gaps.
"Let's rebuild our country and restore its glory together with me," he said.
"I AM A PRIME MINISTER FOR ALL"
Mr Muhyiddin stated that he is a prime minister for all Malaysians, while calling for solid support from the people.
“I am the prime minister for all Malaysian citizens from Perlis to Sabah."
He added: “Whether you are Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sikh, Iban, Kadazan, Dusun, Murut, orang asal or from any races or ethnicities, I am your prime minister."
“Whether you are a farmer, fisherman, businessman, civil servant or a private sector employee, I am your prime minister.”
Mr Muhyiddin said he offered his "soul and spirit" to the country.
"Give me a chance to utilise my 40 years of experience in politics and government to steer Malaysia to glory."