Muhyiddin publicly backs Umno rebels

Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin said he supports the nine branch leaders as he believes in party democracy.
Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin said he supports the nine branch leaders as he believes in party democracy.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

He says branch leaders who faced disciplinary board were 'justified' to call for premier's resignation

KUALA LUMPUR • Saying that he did not care what action Umno would take against him, the party's deputy president, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, has thrown his support behind nine party branch leaders hauled up by the disciplinary board for calling on the premier to resign.

Mr Muhyiddin also said yesterday that he is barred from doing the customary winding-up speech on the last day of next week's Umno general meeting. "I planned to speak but was told that I can't," he told the media, while on his way to give support to nine leaders of an Umno division in Negeri Sembilan who had been called to appear before the party's disciplinary board. "I will be a tree stump on the stage, everyone else can speak but the deputy president can't."

He added that he will still be attending the assembly as he is still the deputy president, but he was also barred from speaking at any of the assemblies by the party's wings.

Mr Muhyiddin's revelation came after Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor's recent announcement that there is no clause in the party's Constitution that allowed all leaders to speak at the assembly: "In the Constitution, there is nothing specific that says a certain individual has to speak. It ends up becoming competition of who is the best in giving speeches."

Prime Minister Najib Razak has also said that each party wing would be officiated by its respective chief, breaking a party tradition.

On the branch leaders, Mr Muhyiddin said he came to give support to them as he believed in democracy. "I respect the voice of the grassroots in the party as they ensure that if the top leaders can't speak, they will be able to. If the top can't speak and the grassroots members can't speak, what is the meaning of democracy in Umno today?" he said.

He told reporters that what the branch leaders said was justified, and the disciplinary board should consider all possible factors before making a decision on the matter.

The leaders had openly called for Datuk Seri Najib to resign on Oct 24, saying they had lost confidence in his leadership, in a sign that all was still not well in the party over the scandal involving 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

After their four-hour disciplinary hearing yesterday, Taman Telok Kemang branch chief Kamarul Azman Habibur Rahman, a spokesman for the nine, said they will know of their fate as party members in two weeks.

"We explained that our call was for the good of the party and we had no other intention apart from the party's interests," he said, adding that the board was satisfied with their explanation.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2015, with the headline 'Muhyiddin publicly backs Umno rebels'. Print Edition | Subscribe