Timbalan Perdana Menteri Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin sekali lagi menafikan khabar angin bahawa beliau akan meletak jawatan.
Dalam wawancara yang disiarkan akhbar milik Umno, Utusan Malaysia hari ini, Muhyiddin berkata beliau masih ligat dan tangkas, dan akan terus kekal dalam Umno
Tegasnya, beliau akan memikul tugasnya selagi diberikan kepercayaan oleh anggota parti dan presiden, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
"Saya fikir saya ada lagi keupayaan untuk membantu pimpinan Umno dan kerajaan. Jadi saya akan terus berikan perkhidmatan.
"Tak payahlah nak bicarakan soal bila saya nak berhenti atau apakah benar begitu.
"Saya berfikir juga, kalau sudah dianggap bersedia (hadapi pilihan raya) bolehlah saya berundur tetapi saya tengok keadaan sekarang tidak sebegitu, dilihat masih penting untuk saya berada di sini dan saya kena terus bantum,” katanya.
Muhyiddin yang juga timbalan perdana menteri berkata beliau dan Najib akan mengagihkan sebahagian daripada tugas rasmi mereka kepada menteri lain bagi meluangkan lebih masa untuk parti.
Menurutnya, beliau dan Najib “tenggelam” dalam urusan kerajaan sehingga tidak meluangkan masa yang cukup dalam hal ehwal parti.
"Saya katakan kita sudah capai tahap agak kritikal, kalau perubahan atau pembaharuan tidak dilihat berlaku, bimbangnya kita boleh kalah.
"Isyarat itu sudah jelas di hadapan kita, kalau tidak bertindak dengan tegas terhadap pimpinan di peringkat mana-mana sekalipun untuk membawa perubahan, maka terpaksa kita ambil tindakan sewajarnya," katanya lagi.
Wawancara khas itu dijalankan sempena perhimpunan agung Umno yang akan berlangsung dari 25 sehingga 29 November ini.- mk
To quit, or not to quit...
And the man taking over as DPM is Umno VP No. 3 Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein. Not Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the VP No. 1 as “many” had expected.
But first things first. Is Muhyiddin really resigning?
“He should,” said a “well-connected” Umno man going on to list out what he see as Muhyiddin’s “inefficiency, shortcoming and weaknesses”.
All of which said he, “is no good for the party”. Hence, “he should go”.
Such an “assessment” is subjective, of course, and I’ll leave it there. The thing is – he “should” (resign) and “is he” (resigning) are different matters altogether.
Said a veteran Umno watcher, Muhyiddin’s “departure” is no secret in Umno and “in fact many party members feel this Umno general assembly (November 25-29) will be his last as deputy president”.
That would mean they expect Muhyiddin to complete his term as Umno deputy president (which is to run until 2016) and take a final bow come the next assembly. Or maybe, a bit earlier.
“Many say even if stays on he will be challenged for the number two post in the next party elections.” So said the party watcher, claiming he “dug out” the info from Umno “reliable contacts”.
Still there are Umno folk who see Muhyiddin making a quick exit i.e. before his term is up.
Against such a backdrop, comes the “talk” of Hishammuddin being groomed or already picked by Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be Muhyiddin’s successor. To be Najib’s second in command in government.
All that based on how the Umno fraternity “reads the political situation and going-ons”. Politicians that they are, Umno leaders and members alike, love to “analyse” and “read between the lines”. So to speak.
And just what are their “readings”?
For one, when Najib opened the recent Selangor Umno convention, it was Hisham who officiated the closing ceremony later in the day, having to fly from Terengganu where he attended another Umno do. (Najib is head of Selangor Umno as well.)
Zahid, meanwhile, attended an official government event (a seminar on jihad v militant) while Muhyiddin’s duty was to grace the Malaysia Cup final and present the coveted trophy to the winners.
Many see that as an endorsement of Hisham. A signal from Najib.
Then there’s the committee tasked to vet resolutions for this year’s Umno assembly. Put simply, a committee which can “determine” or rather set the tone for proceedings by deciding what can be debated and what cannot. The committee as we know is headed by Hisham.
A source in Umno HQ tells me it’s normal for a VP be assigned to head the committee. But the fact remained that Najib or “ibu pejabat” picked Hisham instead of Zahid or Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, the other VP in Umno.
Anyway a point of contention among Umno members is that Zahid is naib presiden nombor satu by virtue of garnering the highest number of votes in the VP race at last year’s party elections while Hisham came in third.
By convention VP No. 1 is the choice for any “promotion” should a situation warrant it. And as we know, Umno deputy president equals deputy PM. That has always been the equation. Thus far.
But Umno has seen VP No. 3 being picked before when in 1976 Tun Hussein Onn chose (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad as DPM ahead of (Tun) Ghafar Baba and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who came in first and second respectively in the Umno VP elections a year earlier.
“True it happened before but that was at a time when Umno’s strength was not in question. Masa tu Umno solid boleh lah pakai sifir tu. Sekarang sifir sudah lain,” the Umno strategist retorted.
However, said the Umno watcher, Najib could very well “prefer” Hisham as his cousin enjoys a high profile internationally compared with Zahid , what with his good command of the English language and what-not.
To that, the Umno strategist had this to say: “Hisham should not leverage on his popularity with MH17, MH370”, obviously referring to the praise heaped on Hisham on the way he “handled” the situation, especially his fielding of hard questions posed by the international media.
And he went on to say by-passing Zahid “will not be good for Umno” to which the Umno watcher concurred, saying from information gathered, Umno members generally feel by-passing Zahid is a “serious matter and can even cause cracks in the party, something an already weak Umno can ill afford”.
“It can’t be denied Zahid is popular in Umno. And if Hisham is seen as loyal to Najib so, too, is Zahid, if loyalty is a criterion, that is. Remember Zahid was at one time Najib’s political secretary many years ago,” said the party watcher who has been “observing” Umno since the late 1970s as a party activist then.
Still, some Umno members opined in the event difficult decisions have to be made “a compromise must be worked out without hurting Zahid and Hisham”.
There are others who feel it will not come to that as Najib need both VPs to “make him stronger”.
Umno members seen as pro-Muhyiddin and self-proclaimed neutrals dismissed the whole Muhyiddin quit episode as speculation or “some higher ups, including Najib, testing waters”. Elaboration was not given though.
Nonetheless a party leader from Perak, known to be outspoken, has this to say: “If there’s anyone who should go for the sake of Umno, then its Najib himself. Follow Muhyiddin and get Zahid and and Hisham to be number one and two”.
Well anyway, now it is said that Muhyiddin, despite earlier contemplating resignation, is having a change of heart upon his return from haj recently.
That’s one headache less for Najib. He doesn’t have to make a hard decision (choosing Hisham or Zahid). At least for now. – Mohsin Abdullah,TMI
Quitting is last thing on my mind...
He said he would remain in his post as long as he has the confidence of the Umno president Najib Abdul Razak and his party’s members.
“I think I still have the ability to assist the Umno leadership and the government, so I will continue with my services. There is no need to discuss when I will resign or whether it’s true that I’ll resign.
“I think if we are ready (to face general elections) then I can step down, but to me it seems that is not the situation, so it is important that I remain here and help,” he said in an interview with Utusan Malaysia published today.
Muhyiddin, who is also Umno’s deputy president, added that he and Najib will delegate some of their official duties to other ministers, in order to spend more time reforming the party.
He said he and the PM have been ‘buried’ in government affairs, to the extent of not spending enough time on party affairs.
“We are at a critical juncture. If reform or renewal is not seen to be done, I am worried that we will lose (the next election).
“The writing is already on the wall. If we don’t take stern action on the leaders of any level to bring change, then we will have to bear with the consequences,” he was quoted as saying, when asked about preparations for the 14th general election.
‘Free to speak’
On another matter, Muhyiddin said delegates at the upcoming Umno general assembly should be free to speak on any subject, including hot-button issues such as whether national-type schools help or hinder national unity, on the Sedition Act 1948, and issues of race and religion.
He said the party leaders and delegates have a responsibility to raise issues, and the assembly is the best platform for them to do so.
However, he said the speakers should also come forward with suggestions instead of merely raising issues, and also be tactful, to not hurt the feelings of others.
“Some people have reminded us not to say this or not to say that. For me, the members need to be given the freedom although they should know how to deliver it without hurting the feelings of others.
“Let it be sweet to the ears but sting in the heart because what was said is true. These are basics that I think our speakers could use,” he said.
Previously, Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Mansor (left) said that party members were told not play up racial and religious issues, or personal issues between members, during the assembly.
“We should not touch on personal problems, sensitive race issues and sensitive problems between Umno members.
“They can do what they want in accordance to the guidelines given by Hishammuddin Hussein, as the vice-president in charge of these matters,” he said.
Umno would be holding its 65th annual general assembly from Nov 25 until Nov 29 at the Putra World Trade Centre. - mk