Muhyiddin’s sting fails, Umno leaders rally around Najib

Muhyiddin Yassin

(The Malaysian Insider)  The Monday rally by staunch critics of Datuk Seri Najib Razak appears to have had little effect on Umno leaders and divisional delegates, who last night rallied around the embattled president and prime minister, helping to ensure a trouble-free party annual general assembly for him this week.

The party’s top leaders also hit out at Najib’s estranged deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for his speech at the rally, with one Supreme Council member saying he “doubted” the latter’s future in Umno.

Umno leaders and delegates who attended a late night pre-council briefing with Najib yesterday said the audience applauded the president when he responded directly to issues brought up at Muhyiddin’s gathering in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur.

Though the event highlighted a growing but still small rebellion in the party, these voices are unlikely to be heard at the assembly.

The pre-council briefing ahead of Umno’s annual general assembly is traditionally a platform where the president delivers any last-minute messages to the divisional delegates, who are essentially its middle management.

With the support shown to Najib from these delegates, the general assembly which runs until Saturday is expected to be smooth sailing for him, even as he faces calls to resign from critics within the party and at the grassroots level.

Muhyiddin was not present at the pre-council meeting last night. Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said Najib responded to issues, including the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) controversy and questions surrounding the RM2.6 billion donation from a Middle-Eastern individual.

But top most in the minds of delegates was Muhyiddin’s no-show at the pre-council briefing and the latter’s fate in the party after his speech in Kampung Baru.

Supreme Council member Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman said Najib felt he was in a difficult position when it came to Muhyiddin, who was sacked as deputy prime minister in July in a Cabinet reshuffle.

“(Najib) trusted (Muhyiddin) and (the latter) enjoyed a special privilege with him as deputy. Whatever problems should be discussed behind closed doors,” said Tajuddin. Many Umno members, he said, were upset with the Kampung Baru gathering.

“The event can be exploited by our enemies. We should not give ammunition for our enemies to use against us,” said Tajuddin.

At the Kampung Baru gathering, Muhyiddin repeated his criticism of 1MBD and the RM2.6 billion donation. He urged Najib to take a rest while the probes into these two were completed.

Another Supreme Council member Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said Najib appeared to be upset with Muhyiddin’s actions.

“He said the deputy president should assist the president… As a Supreme Council member, I am upset over the rally,” said Rahman, also urban wellbeing, housing and local government minister.

Another Supreme Council member Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin said he has doubts over Muhyiddin’s future in Umno.