KUALA LUMPUR - Muhyiddin Yassin said on Wednesday that he did not feel his position as deputy president of Umno party was threatened, a day after he was removed as Malaysia's deputy prime minister.
"I do not feel my position as deputy president is threatened.. The responsibility of the deputy president is to help the president... I will not think about what has happened to me in the past because what is important are the party and the country's problems,'' he said, referring to Prime Minister Najib Razak who is also president of Umno.
"I advise my supporters that we must put priority on the party and the country and not do something that will cause a stir,'' he told a packed news conference at his residence.
Muhyiddin’s comments come as the Umno Supreme Council is set to meet on Friday and his role as deputy party president could be on the agenda.
When asked about his future plans, Muhyiddin said: "Give me space and time to compose my standing...What I do next must be based on my position as deputy president of Umno and deputy chairman of Barisan Nasional."
"Whether or not I am on the same platform as (former premier) Dr Mahathir is not important...But what is important is doing the best for public interest," he said.
On the allegations of abuse of public funds by 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Muhyiddin said: "As a Muslim, I cannot lie and that is why when there is a matter, I must give my opinion."
Muhyiddin was replaced by Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in a Cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday which saw Najib removing detractors who had openly criticised the government's handling of the llegations against 1MDB.
Muhyiddin had on Sunday delivered a scathing speech at an Umno divisional meet, saying the ruling BN coalition would lose an election if it was called now due to 1MDB, which had racked up RM42 billion (S$15 billion) in debt. He had called on Najib to explain clearly issues concerning the state firm instead of asking the public to wait for investigations to be completed.
Muhyiddin told reporters on Wednesday that the Cabinet reshuffle was only made known to him less than an hour before the announcement was made. He was on his way to an event in Negeri Sembilan when he was informed by the Prime Minister’s Office to meet with Najib at 11am.
“I was only able to meet him (Mr Najib) at about 12.15pm… I asked him ‘do you have anything to say to me?’ He (Najib) kept quiet. I asked him again: ‘Is it about the Cabinet reshuffle?’, and he nodded.”
Muhyiddin then asked Najib: “Am I not in the list of the new Cabinet?”
“He nodded again,” said Muhyiddin, who added he then responded to Najib's reticence with a “thank you”.
A group of opposition MPs said they would move a vote of no-confidence against Najib, but set no timeframe. They also invited Muhyiddin and other rival lawmakers, including those from Umno, to participate in the vote.
Muhyiddin said on Wednesday that he did not know if the no-confidence vote will take place, but he would follow what was decided by the party whip.
On Wednesday, a steady flow of family members, friends and supporters were seen going in and out of his residence, including Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, son of Dr Mahathir. When asked by reporters, Muhyiddin denied he was plotting anything but stressed that they were all well-wishers.
"I had a good sleep. My wife is here," he said, adding that he had slept late responding to messages of support on his handphone.