PETALING JAYA: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who has been suspended as Umno deputy chief for criticising Datuk Seri Najib Razak, has called for the prime minister to step down in a statement on Saturday (Feb 27).
Referring to Mr Najib's recent financial scandals as a "black episode", Tan Sri Muhyiddin stressed the need for reforms in Malaysia, the Malaysiakini news site reported.
"I think the black episode happening in Malaysia is making us more mature.
"If we want to see Malaysia return to a respected country where the rakyat can live a more prosperous life, we need to be prepared to demand for changes.
"It is not just to demand the prime minister to step down but to reject a political institution that has failed to fulfil the aspirations of the rakyat.
"Set aside racial, religious and ideological sentiments to get rakyat's consensus towards forming a government that is just, trustworthy and with integrity," he said.
Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor announced on Friday night its Supreme Council's decision to suspend Mr Muhyiddin with immediate effect. Mr Tengku Adnan told reporters Mr Muhyiddin's "actions did not mirror his responsibilities as a deputy president, who is supposed to help the Umno president strengthen the party".
Mr Muhyiddin was sacked as deputy prime minister last year, after he urged Mr Najib to explain to the people about scandals surrounding the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The state investor, whose advisory board was led by the prime minister, is under investigation for financial irregularities.
The Wall Street Journal last year claimed that Mr Najib received US$681 million (S$959 million) from 1MDB-linked firms just before the 2013 General Election. But Attorney-General Apandi Ali in January said the money that was deposited into Mr Najib's personal bank account was a personal donation from the Saudi royal family, clearing the prime minister of wrongdoing.
In his statement posted on Facebook, Mr Muhyiddin also said that the Supreme Council did not follow proper disciplinary procedures in suspending him, The Star Online reported.
"I was not served a show cause letter or given time to defend myself. I did not face the disciplinary board for them to then make a recommendation to the Supreme Council.
"Ordinary members were given the opportunity to defend themselves while I was immediately punished.
"What has happened to Umno's values? Gone are the values of honesty, sincerity and courage to state our rights and to oppose falsehood," he said.
Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is deputy prime minister, will assume the deputy president's responsibilities.