Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has been arrested and charged with corruption and money laundering over his government’s Covid spending fund. He is the second ex-leader of Malaysia to be indicted after leaving office.
Muhyiddin, 75, was detained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Thursday after being questioned for several hours. He was accused of abusing his power to obtain 232 million ringgit ($55 million) from building contractors in exchange for awarding them government projects related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He was also charged with four counts of money laundering for allegedly transferring part of the funds to his party, Bersatu, and other entities. He pleaded not guilty to all charges at a Kuala Lumpur court on Friday and was released on bail.
Muhyiddin served as Malaysia’s prime minister from March 2020 until August 2021, when he lost a confidence vote in parliament amid public discontent over his handling of the health crisis and political turmoil. He was succeeded by Anwar Ibrahim, who defeated him in a snap election in November 2021.
Muhyiddin is the second former Malaysian prime minister to be arrested for corruption. Najib Razak was sentenced in August 2020 to 12 years in prison in a case relating to the state fund 1MDB, one of the largest corruption cases in the world. Najib is appealing against his conviction.
The MACC said it would continue its investigation into Muhyiddin’s case and urged anyone with information to come forward. It also warned that it would not tolerate any interference or obstruction of justice.
The corruption charge against Muhyiddin has sparked mixed reactions among Malaysians. Some welcomed it as a sign of accountability and transparency, while others questioned its timing and motive. Some also expressed concern about the impact of political instability on Malaysia’s economic recovery and social cohesion.