The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) yesterday asked everyone, including Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, not to comment on allegations levelled at state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) until a multi-agency task force finished its work in probing the scandal.
In an unusual rebuke that mentioned Tan Sri Muhyiddin by name, the statement from the PMO said that politicians should stop fighting among themselves as this would erode public support.
On Sunday, Mr Muhyiddin said that Prime Minister Najib Razak should explain the 1MDB issue to Malaysians, and that he had asked Datuk Seri Najib to resign from the fund. Mr Najib heads 1MDB's board of advisers. Mr Muhyiddin's words in a 70-minute speech could be seen as an attempt to distance himself from the saga that has shaken Mr Najib's leadership.
The PMO said: "The investigation is ongoing, and we should give those involved space to perform their duties. Therefore, all parties - especially those from the government, including Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin - should wait for the findings of the investigation to be released."
It added: "It would be wise not to make statements that could cloud the people's perception of the country's leaders, the government and Umno."
The statement added that the actions of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad "in making unsubstantiated accusations", despite repeated explanations, "have contributed to the erosion of confidence in the government and the party".
Mr Muhyiddin, speaking at an Umno event on Sunday, said he did not have any malice in questioning the 1MDB scandal. "I have no malice. Why should I? But I have to speak the truth and give my views and advice."
He added: "We cannot explain properly because even we don't know the facts. So, who is going to tell us the facts? It should be the Prime Minister, true or not?"
Mr Muhyiddin admitted that he had led a movement to urge Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resign as premier after the 2008 General Election. But he said the situation was different today as Umno was in a weak position and could not afford a leadership tussle.
He said he was vocal in Cabinet meetings on 1MDB and other issues, but was reluctant to speak about it publicly as he was concerned his comments would be manipulated to make it look as if he was going against Mr Najib.
Mr Muhyiddin's comments created a mixed reaction in Umno.
A member of Umno's policymaking supreme council, MP Reezal Merican Naina Merican, defended Mr Muhyiddin and denied the party was in turmoil.
But Sabah Assembly Speaker Salleh Said Keruak, a strong supporter of Mr Najib, asked Mr Muhyiddin to resign. "It is clear that his statement is a disguised vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister for allegedly keeping the entire country in the dark. The noble and honourable thing for Muhyiddin to do is... to resign," he said in his blog.