Malaysia's ruling party Umno yesterday sacked its two biggest rebels, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, following recent elections that have strengthened the hand of party president Najib Razak.
Mr Muhyiddin, 69, who was Umno's deputy president, was sacked 11 months after Datuk Seri Najib fired him from the Cabinet in a shocking move for raising questions about the scandal surrounding state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Mr Muhyiddin was suspended as Umno deputy president in February, with new Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi assuming the duties.
The removal of Mr Mukhriz, 51, son of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, was done four months after he was forced to step down as Kedah chief minister.
Tun Dr Mahathir, once the mentor of PM Najib, is now the Premier's harshest critic, with Mr Mukhriz often espousing similar views to that of his father about the Umno leadership.
The sackings, effective immediately, was made at yesterday's meeting of Umno's Supreme Council, the decision-making body of Malaysia's biggest party.
"The Supreme Council unanimously decided to sack Muhyiddin and Mukhriz for breaking party rules; moreover, they shared a stage with opposition leaders to attack the party leadership," Mr Najib told reporters.
Both Mr Muhyiddin and Mr Mukhriz did not actively campaign at the recent twin by-elections in Selangor and Kedah, or in the Sarawak state elections last month.
But they did appear with Dr Mahathir alongside top opposition leaders and political activists in March when Dr Mahathir launched the so-called Save Malaysia campaign to topple Mr Najib.
"They made speeches attacking the party leadership. That is a huge offence in terms of the party's discipline," Mr Najib told reporters.
Meanwhile, a third rebel in Umno, vice-president Shafie Apdal, had his membership suspended as the party awaits the findings of a disciplinary committee.
Mr Najib also announced yesterday that the party leadership is asking the government, which he leads, to cut funding and allocations to Perdana Leadership Foundation, an organisation now headed by Dr Mahathir.
The foundation, located in Putrajaya, was set up to disseminate information on former prime ministers, but has been used by Dr Mahathir to hold press conferences criticising Mr Najib.
Mr Najib said "the foundation is used as a base to plot the toppling of government through unconstitutional and illegal means".
He added that its employees will be given termination notices.
In response, Dr Mahathir, 90, wrote on his blog that there is no sense of loss.
"Seize it... I will not feel loss when the seizure is made.
"I know and am used to life without privileges. I only grieve when I think of this beloved country's future," he wrote.
Explaining the move against the foundation, Supreme Council member Reezal Merican Naina Merican said: "There must be some kind of a reaction from the party or else we will be seen as being impotent."