Sacked Umno duo hint at forming new party

Malaysia's former deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (center) waving as he arrives for a rally in Shah Alam, outside of Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia's former deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (center) waving as he arrives for a rally in Shah Alam, outside of Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: AFP

Sacked Umno veterans Muhyiddin Yassin and Mukhriz Mahathir held a press conference yesterday but left their next course of action unclear.

"We need to ponder deeply whether we should join any political parties or form a new political platform. This needs to be thought over carefully," said Tan Sri Muhyiddin, a former deputy prime minister.

The two men, who hold parliamentary seats in Johor and Kedah states, hinted at the possibility of forming a new political party or movement to counter Prime Minister Najib Razak's leadership.

However, both leaders, who were sacked from the ruling party last Friday for dissent, stopped short of providing anything concrete.

"I'm not going to jump the gun at this stage," said Mr Muhyiddin, who held Umno's second-highest post as deputy president prior to his sacking.

Mr Muhyiddin, who was removed from his deputy prime minister's post last July, had kept mum since then over what is next for his political career.

But yesterday, he said he is considering his options and that the country needs a political platform that is able to provide the necessary reforms.

With speculation of a possible snap election next year, however, Datuk Seri Mukhriz admitted that the duo are pressed for time to decide on their next move.

"This is what I've been discussing with Muhyiddin about, that we should make a decision soon," the former Kedah chief minister said.

Neither politician is appealing against the sacking, which was decided by the party's leadership.

Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal, who lost his ministerial post in last July's Cabinet reshuffle, is suspended pending a disciplinary committee's decision.

Datuk Seri Najib said the sacking was based on the duo's action of sharing a stage with opposition leaders and breaking party rules.

The Prime Minister had been acting to stifle dissent within the party by removing critics, and has been emboldened by support from within Umno as well as the ruling coalition's recent victories in the Sarawak state election and two by-elections.

Trinna Leong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2016, with the headline 'Sacked Umno duo hint at forming new party'. Print Edition | Subscribe