Muhyiddin stays as Umno deputy head

Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi (at right) speaking yesterday with his predecessor, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was dropped from the Cabinet in July.
Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi (at right) speaking yesterday with his predecessor, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was dropped from the Cabinet in July.PHOTO: REUTERS

Amid rumours of possible sackings, Supreme Council members put on show of party unity

After days of intense speculation that heads might roll at the Umno Supreme Council's first meeting since July, it turned out to be an uneventful affair.

Prime Minister and Umno president Najib Razak yesterday dismissed rumours about the fate of deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin and that of vice-president Shafie Apdal as pure speculation.

Datuk Seri Najib told reporters that Tan Sri Muhyiddin had re-affirmed his commitment and loyalty to Umno at the meeting of the Supreme Council, which is the party's top decision-making body.

"I welcome the involvement of Tan Sri Muhyiddin as deputy president and he has said that he remains loyal to Umno and is willing to fight to ensure Umno's longevity and the party's success in the coming general election," Mr Najib told a press conference last night after chairing the meeting.

SHOW OF COMMITMENT

I welcome the involvement of Tan Sri Muhyiddin as deputy president and he has said that he remains loyal to Umno and is willing to fight to ensure Umno's longevity and the party's success in the coming general election. I would like to thank him and Shafie Apdal who had given the same commitment.

PRIME MINISTER AND UMNO PRESIDENT NAJIB RAZAK, at a press conference last night after chairing the party's Supreme Council meeting 

"I would like to thank him and Shafie Apdal who had given the same commitment."  

Mr Najib insisted that the issue of their suspension was never on the agenda. Mr Muhyiddin declared himself a "true blue" Umno member as he left the meeting.

Local media earlier reported that Mr Muhyiddin and Datuk Seri Shafie, together with Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir, were greeted with cheers and applause from supporters when they arrived for the meeting.

It was the first meeting of the Umno Supreme Council since Mr Muhyiddin and Mr Shafie lost their Cabinet posts in a sudden reshuffle in late July.

A message circulating on Whats- App in recent days claimed that both men and others would be sacked by the Supreme Council.

Another said to be on the chopping board was Datuk Seri Mukhriz, whose father, former premier Mahathir Mohamad, is the current Prime Minister's chief critic.

Mr Muhyiddin had openly questioned the Prime Minister  over allegations surrounding debt-ridden state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). 

Mr Najib is the chairman of its advisory board.

Then, on July 28, Mr Muhyiddin was dropped as deputy prime minister and replaced by Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, who is also a party vice-president.

Since then, there have been calls for Mr Muhyiddin and Mr Shafie to be removed from their party posts amid rumours of infighting within the party.

Yesterday, Umno leaders sought to put on a united front.

"It was a meeting that showed the big Umno family. The meeting was good, no voices were raised. Among the things brought up were unity and moving forward," Sabah Umno representative Abdul Rahman Dahlan told reporters, according to Malay Mail Online.

"There was no discussion on taking action towards anyone. Everything, the whole meeting, was orderly and calm," said another Supreme Council member Abdul Aziz Kaprawi.

Mr Najib yesterday also confirmed that the Supreme Council did not discuss party polls, despite some disgruntled party members calling for an election. 

Umno's party elections, which were scheduled to take place in June next year, have been pushed back by 18 months.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2015, with the headline 'Muhyiddin stays as Umno deputy head'. Print Edition | Subscribe