Malaysian PM switches back to real name after court bungle

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s government has issued a directive ordering all civil servants to use the legal spelling of the prime minister’s name, after a court earlier squashed a detention order that was signed by the leader using his more widely known unofficial spelling.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s office told all civil servants in a circular earlier June to use his real name, Mahiaddin Yasin, in all formal documents. It said this followed advice from the Attorney-General’s Chambers but didn’t elaborate.

Mahiaddin is the leader’s birth name, but he has popularly been known as Muhyiddin throughout his long political career. While pronounced slightly differently, both are variants of the same name.

News of the government directive was first reported Wednesday.

The move came after a High Court in April revoked a detention order the prime minister had signed using his unofficial spelling and freed a man detained for allegedly distributing drugs.

The court decision raised questions about the legality of other documents he may have signed previously using his unofficial spelling.

Muhyiddin, 74, became Malaysia’s eighth prime minister in March 2020 and the only unelected one following political machinations that led to the downfall of a reformist coalition that he was also part of.

He was home minister since 2018 under the former government, and had held previous key posts in the past including as deputy prime minister, trade minister and as a state chief minister.

His social media pages still use his unofficial spelling and an aide to the premier said Wednesday the public can still refer to him as Muhyiddin.

The Associated Press

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