Muhyiddin plans to rebut party criticisms

PETALING JAYA • The olive branch extended by Malaysian Prime Minister and Umno president Najib Razak at the close of the party's annual party congress last week appears to have been brushed aside by his estranged deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

A source close to Mr Muhyiddin told The Star he is believed to be planning another political lecture to rebut the points made by Datuk Seri Najib during his speeches at the assembly, despite giving Mr Najib a polite handshake when the assembly wrapped up on Saturday.

According to the source, Mr Muhyiddin wants to defend himself on the issues raised by Mr Najib, and respond to attacks and criticism by some of the delegates who spoke during the debate.

"He feels that he needs to reply to the allegations about his leadership and performance as the party No. 2," said the source.

Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassinyesterday signalled his continuing dissent against Prime Minister Najib Razak as he shared this photo of a message from a supporter online.
Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassinyesterday signalled his continuing dissent against Prime Minister Najib Razak as he shared this photo of a message from a supporter online. PHOTO: FACEBOOK PAGE OF MUHYIDDIN YASSIN

Mr Najib had held out an olive branch to Mr Muhyiddin on the final day of the general assembly when he urged dissenters in Umno to set aside differences and return to the fold, even as he warned that not doing so would mean rejecting the party leadership's decisions.

Mr Muhyiddin, along with former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal, has been critical of Mr Najib's handling of the debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state investment company.

Mr Muhyiddin and Datuk Seri Shafie were sacked from the Cabinet in July.

It is understood that Mr Muhyiddin did not take well to Mr Najib's statement that "whoever goes against the president also goes against the party".

The source said his planned lecture would be presented as the "winding-up speech" that he was not allowed to make during the party gathering.

But it was unclear if the lecture would be staged at the Sultan Sulaiman Club in Kampung Baru, where Mr Muhyiddin, Mr Shafie and Dr Mahathir had joined forces just days before the assembly to criticise Mr Najib and government policies.

Meanwhile, Mr Muhyiddin yesterday signalled his continuing dissent, sharing a photo of a thank-you message from a supporter on his Facebook page.

The message, written on a napkin, read: "We are all for you and we are praying that your struggle is not in vain."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2015, with the headline 'Muhyiddin plans to rebut party criticisms'. Print Edition | Subscribe