Long overshadowed by colorful contemporaries, the man who emerged from a week of turmoil as Malaysia's new prime minister on Sunday is a publicity-shy picture of conservatism.

When Muhyiddin Yassin, 72, heard news on Saturday that the king had picked him over 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, the outspoken leader who has dominated Malaysian politics for decades, he immediately dropped to the carpet in tears to give thanks to Allah.

"He is a very serious, boring man," said one person who has worked with him for years and did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.