KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has accused the opposition of being behind a fake letter that claims his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi wrote a letter asking him to step down.
Datuk Seri Najib said the fake letter, which went viral on social media, was the work of an "envious" opposition following the Umno annual assembly two weeks ago. The meeting went smoothly, with the party backing his leadership.
"They are envious of the total solidarity within Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN)," the prime minister said in a statement last Saturday.
"So it's not surprising that they are now spreading rumours in an attempt to undermine my close relationship with the deputy prime minister," he wrote. "Perhaps they are mistaking his character with some former party members, who were driven by personal interest, not the party or national interest."
The image of the letter purportedly written by Datuk Seri Dr Zahid had what appeared to be his signature on it, and bore a Sulit (Secret) stamp often seen on important government documents.
"The opposition is now so desperate and in such disarray that they have been forced to ally themselves with the man who jailed their own leaders," Mr Najib said, in a clear reference to former mentor turned critic Mahathir Mohamad. "I urge all party members to be alert to the dirty tactics used by our enemies," Mr Najib added.
The prime minister's quick response showed that party leaders are keen to curb speculation over any split at the top of the government or in Malaysia's largest political party.
Mr Zahid promised his undivided loyalty to Mr Najib at the Umno gathering, closing the doors on nearly two years of party instability arising from the rift between Mr Najib and his former deputy Muhyiddin Yassin.
Umno leaders have been making a beeline to police stations to lodge reports against the fake letter.
"A letter is being circulated in social media with the falsified signature of Dr Ahmad Zahid that looks like a coup d'etat. This is a very dangerous letter that could destabilise Umno, Barisan Nasional and the Malaysian public," said Mr Shahbudin Embun, the information chief for Kuala Lumpur.
The ruling BN coalition, on its official website, pointed out that the fake letter contained the slogan "Demi Malaysia yang lebih baik (For a better Malaysia)", which is the slogan of Dr Mahathir's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
The Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia newspaper had this headline on its website yesterday: "Attempt to set Najib-Zahid clash failed".
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK