Umno deputy leader Muhyiddin plans to rebut issues raised at general assembly

Deputy President of the ruling party United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) Muhyiddin Yassin speaks during a rally. PHOTO: EPA

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The reconciliatory mood at the close of the Umno general assembly may be short-lived as the party's deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is believed to be planning another political ceramah to air his views.

Mr Muhyiddin, said a source close to him, was preparing to defend himself on the issues raised during the general assembly.

According to the source, he wanted to rebut what Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in his presidential address as well as during the winding-up speech.

Mr Muhyiddin, Malaysia's former deputy prime minister, also wanted to respond to attacks and criticism by some of the delegates who spoke during the debate.

It is unclear at this point whether the new programme would be staged at the Sultan Sulaiman Club in Kampung Baru again or closer to his home base in Johor.

Mr Muhyiddin, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal joined forces at the Kampung Baru event, held just days before the general assembly to criticise Mr Najib's handling of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) issue and other government policies.

The next ceramah would be presented as the "winding-up speech" that Mr Muhyiddin was not allowed to make during the party gathering.

"He feels that he needs to reply to the allegations about his leadership and performance as the party No.2," said the source.

Mr Najib had held out an olive branch to his estranged deputy on the final day of the general assembly when he declared that he wished to be magnanimous about all that had happened.

But Mr Muhyiddin, judging by his body language, looked unmoved. The two men shook hands but did not embrace, although some of the delegates had called out to them to hug.

Those standing nearby noticed that the handshake looked half-hearted - only their fingertips touched - and when Mr Najib tried to raise their hands in the air, Mr Muhyiddin refused to yield.

It appears that Mr Muhyiddin has not accepted the "olive branch" held out by Mr Najib.

"There was a branch but where is the olive?" asked the source.

It is understood that Mr Muhyiddin did not take well to Mr Najib's statement that "whoever goes against the president also goes against the party".

Moreover, he had posted a terse account on his Facebook barely hours after Mr Najib's opening speech, which had implied that Mr Muhyiddin had not performed his duties as the No. 2.

Mr Muhyiddin wrote that he had diligently led one by-election after another since 2009.

He had also fired back by saying that his criticism of the leadership was based on complaints from the ground.

Kapar Umno division chief Datuk Faizal Abdullah said the delegates had made it clear that they wanted the party to move on and prepare to face the next general election.

"Almost every speaker expressed the wish for the fighting and disagreements to end.

"I don't know what else to say but if Muhyiddin insists on taking the issues outside, he is not respecting what the delegates want.

"The president had sent him a clear signal that if there are disagreements, he (Muhyiddin) can go and see him or raise it with the supreme council," added Mr Faizal.

Mr Muhyiddin could be courting disciplinary action if he proceeds to take his grievances public.

He had come close to being sacked at the last Umno supreme council meeting on Wednesday night when one of the supreme council members listed down "eight reasons" why the deputy president should be kicked out.

However, Mr Najib was reluctant to move against his deputy and quickly ended the meeting, even though several others wanted to speak.

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