What happened to the woman that asked 'who is Muhyiddin?'
11 min read

What happened to the woman that asked 'who is Muhyiddin?'

How a speech asking about the government's legitimacy ruined an activist's life and how this dilemma plagues outspoken women.
What happened to the woman that asked 'who is Muhyiddin?'

It was February 29, 2020 – a Saturday. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Malaysia's King, had just announced that Mahiaddin Yassin, also known as Muhyiddin, would be sworn in as the country's next prime minister tomorrow.

It was less than a week ago that Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who had led the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) to an unprecedented victory in the 2018 general elections, resigned – citing he had lost the backing for the majority of the Parliament.

The decision was the result of a backdoor dealing dubbed the "Sheraton Move", masterminded among others by Azmin Ali, who would later leave his party PKR to join his co-conspirator Muhyiddin, in BERSATU.

Some Malaysians, incensed by what they saw as a coup running right under their noses, had staged protests ever since Februrary 26. Tonight's gathering in Dataran Merdeka was not their first, nor would it be their last.

Among the many fiery orators, one would be remembered in history: a woman who defiantly asked: "Who is Muhyiddin?"

When video of her speech went viral, the woman was derided and mocked on social media and in Malay-language blogs. She was lambasted as being uncouth, unladylike, a sore loser who could not accept Muhyiddin's appointment.

It is now June 2021. Malaysia has undergone a depressing stretch going in and out of lockdowns as the country continues to grapple with Covid-19 and its socio-economic aftereffects, nearly one year and a half after the first local case was reported.

Much as the Muhyiddin administration's early lustre has long faded, so has animosity towards the woman. She has now been lauded by some as prescient and a visionary. But life has not been exactly pleasant for her since she shot to fame.

BBNU spoke with the woman named Alia, those who changed their minds about her, and other activists on the effect of online gender-based violence (GBV) has on women – even when they ended up getting vindicated.

We hear from Alia and more after the jump, for subscribers only. 👇

(This article is temporarily available for free members as well during this trial period. Just register here, and choose the "Free" plan)

This post is for paying subscribers only