Muhyiddin absent from Umno chiefs meeting


But other Supreme Council members play it down, saying all had gone well

(Free Malaysia Today) – Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin was surprisingly absent at a gathering of Umno divisional chieftains today, just two days after seeming to have defied party leader Najib Razak about investigations into the controversial debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

Another absentee was Mukhriz Mahathir, son of former Umno president and prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has been a strident critic of 1MDB, as well as division leaders from Johor and Sabah.

Muhyiddin’s absence was downplayed by Supreme Council member Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and others who put up a facade of unity behind Najib.

Ismail, speaking to reporters after the meeting, said Muhyiddin had told him he had wanted to attend but had prior commitments.

Many Umno division leaders in Johor were at a town hall meeting in Muar, and Johor Umno leader Khaled Nordin had previously stated that Johor would support the decisions taken at today’s meeting, Ismail said.

Sabah Umno chiefs could not attend as they were at a pre-arranged training programme.

Ismail expressed satisfaction at the turnout of 154 out of 191 divisions (about 170 had been expected to attend) and other Umno Supreme Council members said the meeting had proceeded without fuss or disagreement.

However, Muhyiddin’s absence as well as that of Mukhriz, is bound to cause much gossip. Seeming mindful of this, Ismail pointedly told reporters that “no one should read too much” into Muhyiddin’s absence. “In the past, the deputy president also did not attend (such a meeting)” he said.

It will only fuel further speculation about Muhyiddin’s true stance about the affairs of 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

On Friday night, Muhyiddin had stated strongly that there must not be a bailout of the troubled company with public funds, that there should be a full parliamentary inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee independently of any effort by the Auditor-General.

His statement had been hailed by opposition politicians who viewed it as a sign of a clear rift between Muhyiddin and his party and government leader. Najib had told the Cabinet on Wednesday that he had ordered the Auditor-General to verify 1MDB’s accounts, and had brought officials of 1MDB and company auditors Deloitte Malaysia to brief the cabinet ministers.