UPDATED 3.20PM | Added statements from opposition leaders in response to Muhyiddin's appointment.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has praised former premier Muhyiddin Yassin's appointment as chairperson of the National Recovery Council (NRC).
According to the special envoy with minister status, the new administration made the right choice to appoint Muhyiddin, given the Bersatu president's experience.
"This appointment is a continuity of the job that he started, in line with his experience in managing the Covid-19 pandemic," Hadi said on Facebook.
The Marang MP added that the position will allow Muhyiddin to work together with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and facilitate efforts towards national recovery.
"Let us hope the partnership between Muhyiddin and the prime minister will ease all efforts towards national recover, ensuring the people's livelihood and economic stability," Hadi said.
Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali yesterday announced Muhyiddin's appointment as NRC head with minister status.
He said the appointment was presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and made based on the government's confidence in Muhyiddin's ability to lead the country's recovery strategies.
However, the move was condemned by critics who alleged attempts to reinstate Muhyiddin's role in government after his resignation following pressure from factions in Umno.
Towards the end of his tenure in office, Muhyiddin had appointed Ismail Sabri as deputy prime minister, sparking a split in Umno with another faction led by party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who cited their loss of confidence in his administration.
In his maiden speech, Ismail Sabri offered opposition parties an opportunity to be part of the NRC, as well as to be a member of the Special Committee on Covid-19 Management.
PM has run out of ideas
Opposition leaders were not, however, as impressed as Hadi.
"Has Ismail Sabri run out of ideas so quickly that after two weeks as prime minister he must rely on the previously failed prime minister?" asked DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.
He said Muhyiddin's appointment was disappointing because it shows that Ismail Sabri is not serious and committed to the National Recovery Plan (NRP) and chose to offer a form of political consolation to his predecessor instead.
"Clearly the NRP is just window dressing to mask the fact that the real decisions are made behind closed doors by a few powerful individuals hidden from the public eye without any regard for the deliberations of the NRC.
"By lightly dismissing public concerns that such appointments are political games in nature to shore up support for his parliamentary majority, without any benefit to resolving the Covid-19 and economic crisis, Ismail Sabri’s honeymoon is effectively over," he said in a statement.
Lim pointed out that the NRP is supposed to be a roadmap to control the Covid-19 pandemic while progressively reopening society and the economy towards the new normal by the end of the year.
"Due to its importance, it has been chaired by the prime minister with members comprising all sectors to demonstrate the whole-of-society effort to win the battle against Covid-19 and pull the economy out of the recession," he added.
The Bagan MP said by appointing Muhyiddin, whose premiership saw the economy tailspin and Covid-19 numbers spiral upwards, Ismail Sabri is diminishing its importance and relegating its powers to just another ordinary committee.
Lim's party colleague, Penang deputy chief minister P Ramasamy was even blunter on the matter, calling the appointment "terrible news".
"Muhyiddin, given his dismal performance, is hardly qualified to hold the position.
"Why appoint Muhyiddin who has been literally disgraced?"
"I don’t think that Muhyiddin’s appointment as the chair of the NRC has anything to do with the recovery of the nation from the terrible pandemic," he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) information chief Ulya Husamudin called it a continuation of past failures.
"Until the date of his resignation as prime minister, Muhyiddin has proven to fail in controlling the epidemic and the average citizen has expressed their anger to the point of labelling his administration as #KerajaanGagal due to thousands of families losing loved ones.
"Many in miserable circumstances were forced to wave the white flag and we can't do the same thing expecting different results.
"Obviously it is a political strategy solely to strengthen the position ahead of the next parliamentary session and certainly not for the benefit of the people," he said in a statement.