Muhyiddin as Acting Prime Minister and the Rumoured Rift

by Al-Jafree Md Yusop, The Malaysian Insider

On August 11, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz announced that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was happy with Deputy Prime Minister’s Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s performance as the acting Prime Minister during his 10-day overseas holiday early August.

According to Nazri, Najib was happy with Muhyiddin’s performance on how he took care of things, as far as running the country was concerned, when the he was on leave. Najib had even thanked Muhyiddin during the Cabinet meeting for doing a good job making sure the country was running smoothly and there were no problems.

“This is proof that there is no rift between PM and DPM. It is absolutely not true. There is no evidence to show any rift… they (Najib and Muhyiddin) work well together,” he said.

During Najib’s absence former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad issued a statement that he didn’t quite understand 1Malaysia. His reason was the Malays and Chinese had different understanding of 1Malaysia.

Muhyiddin then on August 3 made a statement saying the government will continue to explain the 1Malaysia concept so that more people will understand it. He said the government did not expect everyone to fully understand the concept only after slightly more than a year since the idea was first mooted by the Prime Minister.

Opposition daily Siasah stated in their report that Muhyiddin’s response to Dr Mahathir’s statement was that of agreement. Siasah’s report was an interpretation of Muhyiddin’s statement for more effort to explain the 1Malaysia concept.

Muhyiddin’s supporters then reacted by saying that he tried to say without being disrespectful of Dr Mahathir that, if he doesn’t understand, more effort needs to be done to explain further.

The nation’s ‘Number 2’ then blamed Pakatan Rakyat as the reason why Malaysians had yet to understand the 1Malaysia concept, claiming that the opposition coalition had manipulated government policies for their own political interests.

In ten days, Muhyiddin has had to deal with various issues, ranging from the cheating charge against former transport minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik to an increasingly unhappy MCA, when its president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek had claimed that competition between Umno and PAS to gain Malay support had resulted in the country being trapped as a “middle income” nation for more than ten years.

Then there was also the issue of Loh Seng Kok (MCA publicity bureau chief and the party’s central committee member) who said in a statement that forbidding “Allah” from being used in non-Muslim publications had turned the matter into a divisive national issue, one that might become an Achilles’ heel for the BN.

In return, Muhyiddin, in a press conference, said the issue on the use of the ‘kalimah Allah’ should not be revived as the matter was still being pursued in court.

He said the matter should be resolved amicably and any opinion on it should take into consideration the interest of the general public rather than that of a particular group, whether in terms of politics or administration. He also stressed that component parties of the Barisan Nasional (BN) should also accept the fact that the issue should not become a burden that could cause tension when the matter had already cooled off.