The Umno supreme council meeting on Wednesday (Sept 9) will be a closely-watched event as rumours that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and several others will be sacked from Umno refuse to go away.
By Joceline Tan
The Star/Asia News Network
The media spotlight on Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has intensified rather than eased off since he was dropped from the Cabinet. The former Deputy Prime Minister even made news when he landed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport after a golfing holiday in Australia last week.
He was greeted by supporters wearing black T-shirts with his face printed on the front and "I Am Not A Yes Man" on the back. He sportingly held up a T-shirt but when approached by reporters, he only smiled and waved.
The spotlight will get hotter on Wednesday when the Umno supreme council convenes for the first time since Muhyiddin lost his Cabinet post.
Rumours have been flying thick and fast that Muhyiddin, former minister and Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and several others will be sacked from Umno and many imagine it will happen at the supreme council meeting.
Actually the rumours started a day after the Cabinet reshuffle in July. But it took on a life of its own after an SMS claiming to be "Berita panas dari bilik kebal Umno" (hot news from Umno war room) made the rounds.
Apart from Muhyiddin, the list included Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (Kedah Mentri Besar), Datuk Seri Aziz Sheikh Fadzir (Kulim Bandar MP), Datuk Seri Ahmad Said (former Terengganu Mentri Besar), Datuk Jumat Idris (Sepanggar MP) and Perak politician Datuk Hamidah Osman.
This rumour refused to die down because the sacking of Muhyiddin and Shafie from the Cabinet were also preceded by rumours.
Back then, not many thought that Najib had the guts to bring down the axe but he did and that is why everyone is taking this round of rumours much more seriously.
However, even the believers could not explain why these leaders would be sacked.
Yes, Muhyiddin and Najib are no longer on the same page and he has been axed from the Cabinet. But to be sacked from the party for being a contrarian voice? It doesn't make sense.
Ahmad has appeared on the same stage as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad but is that grounds for sacking?
A more valid reason would be Ahmad's botched attempt to bring down the Terengganu government last year.
"There is no wisdom in sacking Muhyiddin or Shafie. You don't punish a person twice," said Ketereh Umno deputy chief Datuk Alwi Che Ahmad.
There have been critical voices against Muhyiddin but only two Umno divisions have formally moved resolutions against him.
The Penampang division in Sabah asked that he be hauled up before the disciplinary committee while the Sungai Besar division in Selangor wants him to resign as deputy president.
The supreme council is overwhelmingly with Najib but very few of them would agree to sacking either Muhyiddin or Shafie who are elected party officials.
"Unless it is proven that they have brought harm to the party, I will object to any move to sack them. Najib has not once asked any of us to attack Muhyiddin.
"Muhyiddin also did not behave like Datuk Seri Anwar (Ibrahim), he has stayed loyal to Umno," said supreme council member Datuk Seri Reezal Merican.
Several Umno leaders have openly quashed the sacking rumours. Vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said it was not on the meeting agenda and Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Rahman Dahlan said that he knows "deep in my heart it will not happen".
Sacking Muhyiddin will cause more political ripples in Johor Umno. Najib does not need another crisis on his hands.
In normal times, the Umno management committee, headed by Muhyiddin, would meet before every supreme council meeting.
On Tuesday (Sept 8), the political bureau chaired by Najib met instead and that added to the sacking rumours.
The supreme council is the top decision-making body in Umno and the political bureau is only one level below it. All the top guns, including Muhyiddin and Shafie, attended and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted about the "positive mood".
But that is not going to stop the rumours that will continue at least until tomorrow.