EXPLAINED: Why Did Our Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, Change His Name?

He didn't really change lah.

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EXPLAINED: Why Did Our Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, Change His Name?

Muhyiddin or Mahiaddin?

Social media, and especially WhatsApp, has been abuzz with questions about Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's name after an official memo directing a change in his name used in official documents made its way online. 

Did the Prime Minister change his name? Why is his IC name different from the name we've always known him by? 

We don't have the answer for the latter question, but we can explain the former. 

The memo

The memo
A circular signed by Muhyiddin's private secretary Datuk Marzuki Mohammad dated 3 June 2021 went viral recently. 

In the memo, it was announced that the prime minister's name should follow the name on his MyKad in all official documents effective immediately. 

The official documents can also state his name without all his honorifics, like “Mahiaddin Bin Md Yassin” or “Tan Sri Dato Seri Haji Mahiaddin Bin Haji Md Yassin”. 

According to The Star, the order was given based on recommendations of the Attorney General's Chambers. 

But, why?

According to Free Malaysia Today (FMT), the circular came about after the Shah Alam High Court freed a Sabahan man who had a two-year detention order against him as the prime minister did not sign the order using his real name. 

The man, who was allegedly involved in a drug case, walked free after the Prime Minister, who was then the Home Minister, signed a preventative detention order as Muhyiddin instead of Mahiaddin. 

So, the accused escaped justice on technicality but lawyers have defended the verdict. 

Human rights lawyer Andrew Khoo told FMT that technicality becomes important when a person's liberty is in question. 

"The law does not provide much room for judicial reviews, and the courts have only been allowed to look at very technical matters. This probably explains the court’s decision in this matter.

"In other areas where preventive detention, detention without trial and deprivation of liberty is not the subject matter, the difference in the name," he told the portal. 

What do we call him, then?

Which one ah?
If you're confused as to what to call our Prime Minister moving forward, don't you worry. 

The directive only applies to official documents, so the layman and media can continue to use the name Muhyiddin Yassin to refer to the prime minister. 

An aide to Muhyiddin reportedly said that the memo does not change anything.

"To the media and public it is still Muhyiddin. There is no change on that score whatsoever," FMT reported. 

There you have it, guys. No confusion for those of us who don't work in a capacity that requires us to prepare official documents for the Prime Minister. 

We can continue to refer to him as we always have. 

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