Malaysia PM Najib's former deputy calls for him to go on leave amid financial probes

Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin suggested Malaysian PM Najib Razak take a break to allow ongoing investigations to be carried out independently.
Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin suggested Malaysian PM Najib Razak take a break to allow ongoing investigations to be carried out independently.PHOTO: THE STAR

KUALA LUMPUR - Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday (Dec 7) called for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to "rest" for two to three months to allow ongoing investigations into two financial scandals involving the leader to be carried out independently.

Speaking at a public function at a hall in Kampung Baru, the heartland of Malay political activism, Tan Sri Muhyiddin said that by stepping down temporarily, there won't be continuing public perception that the Premier was intervening in the probe.

"I propose that the Prime Minister rest awhile, not resign, so that the investigations can be freely conducted," he said to thunderous applause from the crowd attending the function at the historic Kelab Sultan Sulaiman.

"Rest for for two to three months, so that there won't be perception that the prime minister intervened," Mr Muhyiddin said.

Some 3,000 people attended the function, held a day before Umno begins its five day annual assembly on Tuesday (Dec 8).

Also attending the event was ex-premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal.

The venue - a stone's throw away from the Petronas Twin Towers but at a working class section of Kuala Lumpur - was not coincidental.

Kampung Baru is a so-called "new village" of mostly low-rise brick and wooden houses where troubled Malay leaders often gathered in the face of political troubles in order to raise support from the community.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin in his speech said he was worried that the problems of the president would affect the party at the next general election.

Mr Muhyiddin brought his grievances against Datuk Seri Najib via the political rally after being blocked from addressing the annual assembly.

The deputy president traditionally speaks at the joint opening of the party's three wings at the start of the congress, and again at its close.

While Mr Muhyiddin was sacked from his deputy prime minister's post in July, he remains the no. 2 in Umno and thus a thorn in Mr Najib's side.