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Muhyiddin promises to fight graft, abuse of power

Malaysia's new prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday his government will focus on efforts to stamp out corruption and abuse of power.

Kuala Lumpur 

MALAYSIA'S new prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday his government will focus on efforts to stamp out corruption and abuse of power.

"The government under my leadership will prioritise efforts to increase the integrity and good practices by government. This includes efforts to stamp out corruption and abuse of power and improving enforcement and the relevant laws, regulations and practices," Mr Muhyiddin said in his first speech since being sworn in as premier on Sunday.

Mr Muhyiddin also said he will appoint Cabinet members from among those who are clean and with integrity. He said he is not a traitor and only accepted the premiership because he wanted to save Malaysia from the political turmoil engulfing the country. He had no ambition to become prime minister but stepped up in order to resolve the situation.

"I deliberated about it for a long time before making a decision," he said. And he accepted the responsibility to avoid the dissolution of Parliament and stop the political turmoil from drawing out any further.

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Mr Muhyiddin took office as Malaysia's new prime minister on Monday morning, capping a week of political chaos caused by the shock resignation of Mahathir Mohamad, even as the country's economy weakens mainly due to the spread of the coronavirus.

One of his biggest challenges would be to revive South-east Asia's third-largest economy that grew at its slowest pace in a decade in the fourth quarter of 2019.

It was not immediately clear if he would stick to a US$4.7 billion stimulus package which Dr Mahathir, as interim prime minister, announced last week to counter the impact of the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak.

Peter Mumford of consultancy Eurasia Group said: "The change of government and assembling of a new cabinet - appointments are expected soon - could delay the rollout of the stimulus measures announced by Mahathir.

"In addition, the deterioration in relations between Muhyiddin and Mahathir means there is a risk that the former replaces the latter's appointments at government-linked companies, creating a period of uncertainty that delays investment plans."

Foreign investors dumped RM1.26 billion (S$420.6 million) worth of equities last week - the highest in 88 weeks - as domestic political uncertainty added to worries over the disease outbreak. REUTERS

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