Former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was Thursday, March 9, charges with multiple counts of corruption, according to Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency. The former PM calls the charges political persecution.
The indictments come just three months after Muhyiddin lost the general election to Anwar Ibrahim. The case is likely to increase political tensions in Malaysia, which has seen four prime ministers since 2018.
Muhyuddin will be charged under laws related to abuse of power and money laundering in a Kuala Lumpur court on Friday, March 10. The case concerns an economic recovery project launched by his government.
Muhyiddin denies the accusations and describes them as political vendetta. He was briefly arrested on Thursday before being released on bail.
Speaking to reporters, Muhyiddin said he would face seven charges Friday.
“I stress that I am not guilty and I will face all charges against me in court. This action is political persecution because they fear the strength of Perikatan Nasional,” Muhyiddin said, referring to his opposition alliance.
The allegations come ahead of regional elections to be held in six states by mid-year.
Not the first
As prime minister for 17 months between 2020 and 2021, Muhyuddin is the second Malaysian leader to be charged with crimes after losing power. In 2018, Najib Razak faced multiple allegations over the multi-billion dollar corruption scandal at state fund 1MDB and was since jailed.
Anwar Ibrahim also served jail time for corruption and sodomy before he became prime minister. Charges he insists were politically motivated and designed to keep him from power.
Muhyiddin and his party have faced investigations since losing the election in November. The party’s bank accounts were frozen by the anti-graft body and two leaders charged with bribery.
Anwar’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier on Thursday he said he has not interfered in the investigations and any decisions on charges would be made by law enforcement authorities.