Knives out for Muhyiddin as Umno officials call for action over his criticism of Malaysia PM Najib

Malaysia's Deputy President of the ruling party United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), Muhyiddin Yassin, speaks during a rally at the Party's annual general assembly.
Malaysia's Deputy President of the ruling party United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), Muhyiddin Yassin, speaks during a rally at the Party's annual general assembly. PHOTO: EPA

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin crossed the "point of no return" when he made the call for the Prime Minister to go on leave pending investigations into the 1MDB and RM2.6 billion (S$857 million) donation issues.

The view was expressed by party members and officials, with many calling for action against the Umno deputy president's criticism against the party leadership at the Sultan Sulaiman Club on Monday night.

To this, Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said Mr Muhyiddin would be referred to a special committee and risked losing his deputy presidency.

Mr Muhyiddin should know better than to expose party matters in public, he said.

"He (Muhyiddin) had agreed during a supreme council meeting that party matters should not be discussed using public platforms.

"Umno's internal affairs should not be discussed outside, and even I have told him before not to cross the line.

"Of course now he has crossed the line," he told reporters at the sidelines of the Umno General Assembly yesterday.

He said the special committee would assess the matter and forward their findings to the disciplinary board for further action.

Among those calling for action against Mr Muhyiddin were Supreme Council member Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

"Discipline must be upheld. The party can't function fully if there is no decorum or if members do not toe the line," he said.


Datuk Abdul Rahman questioned why Mr Muhyiddin was pressuring Prime Minister Najib Razak to take leave, when he did not do the same when facing issues while serving as deputy prime minister.

"He was not free from issues," Mr Abdul Rahman pointed out. "There were controversies which involved him or his ministry but he was not asked nor did he offer to resign."

He said Umno should defend the institution or chair of the president, adding that asking the party president to go on leave based on accusations that were "hearsay" did not reflect the responsibility that should be shouldered by a party member.

Kelantan Umno information chief Md Alwi Che Ahmad said that it was only Mr Muhyiddin who had a problem with Datuk Seri Najib, not the rest of the Umno leadership.

"I will tell Datuk Seri Najib he should not quit. Why should he when the Supreme Council and Cabinet all have no problem with him?

"Muhyiddin has crossed the line. In a team sports like football, everyone must know their position and role.

"You cannot score an own goal, which is what Muhyiddin has done against Umno," he said.

A delegate from Johor, Mr Abu Talib Alias, questioned the motive behind Mr Muhyiddin's statement that he was willing to be sacked from the party when the Supreme Council had not made any decision to remove or suspend him.

"Saying that is equivalent to saying that it is all right to no longer be in Umno. If that is what he means, then Muhyiddin should leave and not wait for the party to sack him," said the Johor Baru Umno information chief.

Puteri Umno information chief Haryati Hamzah said Muhyiddin's speech did not represent the views of the grassroots.

"He should not make such remarks as a deputy president because he still can go through the proper channels.

"Why must he do it openly," said Mr Haryati, who called for the party leadership to take the necessary action.

Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI) president K. Kenneth Eswaran also said the call by Mr Muhyiddin for Mr Najib to go on leave was "farcical".

"I am compelled to warn Tan Sri Muhyiddin and Tun Mahathir to stop trying to bring down a leader using tactics that could destabilise the nation.

"If you have grievances and differing opinions, there are channels to air them and the ultimate test will be at the ballot box," said Tan Sri Eswaran in a statement yesterday.

He added that both Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin should reflect on "their own shortcomings" before condemning Mr Najib.

On Monday night, Muhyiddin, in his speech at Kelab Sultan Sulaiman in Kuala Lumpur, urged Mr Najib to go on leave until investigations into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) were completed.

He also raised questions pertaining to the RM2.6 billion donation pumped into Mr Najib's personal account and the RM42 billion debt accrued by 1MDB.