Full questions and answers at Muhyiddin’s press conference

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR — July 29, 2015: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today held a press conference at his residence No 5, Jalan Setia Bakti 7, Bukit Damansara here to explain his side of the story over his dismissal as Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister .

Muhyiddin who is the Umno deputy president answered questions ranging from his thoughts on the decision by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to dismiss him from his posts yesterday to whether he was sleeping well after that.

The following are the full questions and answers at the press conference.

On no confidence motion against Najib

Media: “There are calls that you will support the use of the non-confidence vote against Najib?”

Muhyiddin: “It’s a hypothetical; I don’t even know whether such motion will even be held at the Parliament or not, so I will wait and see. But as a responsible (Umno) member of the Parliament, I will make my decision in line with the parliamentary whip’s actions.

On 1MDB fact sheet

Media: “It is has come to our knowledge that all Cabinet ministers were given fact sheets regarding the issue of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Can you explain the facts that you could not understand?

Muhyiddin: “Yes, it is true that all Cabinet ministers were given the fact sheets but it is a simple fact sheet, not quite comprehensive.

“The fact sheet only presents us with simple data that took only five to 10 minutes to finish reading them, which is why I think the amount of explanation given in the fact sheet does not tally with the enormity of the issue.

“So I had to resort to using other methods to get as much information as possible to help form any decision or view that I think can be beneficial in helping the government to solve the issue.”

On whether he has regrets

Media: “Many have deemed that you were dropped from the new Cabinet line-up due to criticising 1MDB so do you have any regrets or do you still think what you did was right?”

Muhydiddin: “As a responsible party member, who was at that time one of the Cabinet ministers and the deputy prime minister, I am duty-bound to shoulder the responsibilities given to me.

“If I had failed to do so then it would be a breach of the people’s, the party’s and the country’s trust. I have accepted my fate and as a Muslim, one must never refuse to accept fate.

“I have stated my stand regarding 1MDB in my previous statement yesterday and I welcome the collective decision made by the Prime Minister “dengan hati terbuka”.

“But I have never regretted my actions because I was only doing what I thought was right because as a veteran politician, my political struggle is in tandem with my religious beliefs which forbid us Muslims from telling lies.

“So that is whenever I give any views regarding any issue I will only speak the truth even if it hurts certain quarters and I will continue to do so if I see the need to do more in the future.”

On joining Dr Mahathir

Media: “What are your immediate plans? Will you join Tun Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) on the same platform now that you are no longer the deputy prime minister?”

Muhyiddin: “First and foremost, I still need more time and space to compose myself so that I can be more rational and responsible in deciding my future action.

“But the most important is that I am still the deputy president of Umno and deputy chairman of Barisan Nasional. So, most probably my future plans will center around those roles.

“Before this, even when I was still the deputy prime minister, I’ve done what I think were the best in strengthening the party, including fostering good relationship between the Malays and other Malaysians as well as supporting all policies implemented by the party and government.

“I have to admit that my role has been limited due to my removal from the Cabinet but I will still do my best for the people, party and country.

“In regards to whether I will join on the same platform as Tun M (Dr Mahathir), I don’t think that it matters that much whether he and I share the same platform because all Malaysians want to do their best for the sake of this country.

“There are many things that need to be done in order to properly develop Malaysia into a modern country. But I don’t think it is wise for anyone to simply ignore any suggestion from our veteran leaders such as our former prime minister (Dr Mahathir).”

“He has views and is still active and keen in making contributions to the country so it would be wise for the government to choose whichever view that can benefit the country.

“For me, we have to be more open, we cannot simply sideline anyone with differing views, including views from Tun M, as long it is done with the intention to help the country.”

On being ostracised in Umno

Media: Even though you still retain your position as the Umno deputy president, do you think that you will be boycotted by any party division or branch?

Muhyiddin: “Well, it is their right to invite me…if I receive any invitation, I will try my best to attend it but so far I am thankful that the Menteri Besar of Johor had advised Umno members in the state to respect me as the party deputy president and had not imposed any restriction on me if I want to visit any division.

“Should the members need my support, I will be there for them because as the deputy president it is my job to strengthen the cooperation between party members especially when it’s near the next general election.

On losing Umno the deputy president post

Media: “Do you think your role as the Umno deputy president is threatened, especially in the upcoming Umno supreme council meeting that will be held this Friday?”

Muhyiddin: “No, I don’t think that my position is threatened because I have been in Umno for years. The supreme council members are veteran members that are experienced and responsible and I know they will be fair in making any decision.

“There will be ample room for anyone present in the meeting to voice out their opinions and I don’t think any extraordinary events will occur in the upcoming meeting because it is the same meeting that I have been attending for years.”

On solving the 1MDB issue

Media: Are you confident that the issue regarding 1MDB will be resolved or will it continue to fester and hurt Malaysia’s economy?”

Muhyiddin: “I am confident that the issue will and can be resolved. Despite the enormity of the issue, proper steps have been taken to resolve it.”

“For example, the government have begun probing 1MDB to determined whether the alleged mismanagement truly happened.

“And now it is already made known that the Auditor-General had completed an interim report regarding 1MDB plus, even the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) is also investigating it.

“Since the PAC will have to delay a lot of things because a new chairman will only be appointed when the parliament starts its sitting, we will have to wait until that happens to see who will be replacing Datuk Nur Jazlan (Mohamed) as the PAC chairman.

“I do not think that there is any issue too big to be solved. It’s just that the government needs to tackle those issues as quickly as possible because if they take too long then the people will start questioning the integrity of those tasked to resolve the issue.

“I hope that this 1MDB issue will be solved as soon as possible.”

On continuing working with Najib

Media: “Can you work with the Umno president who is now seen to be not in conformity with you?”

Muhyiddin: “In the perspective of government (Cabinet reshuffle), this is what we are going through. However, the responsibility as Umno deputy president, according to the constitution, is to assist the president as well as other supreme council members and the party wings (Youth, Wanita and Puteri), to perform their duties.

“My responsibility is to manage the party. As mentioned before – I am the chairman of the management committee in both Umno and Barisan Nasional. I will continue carrying out these responsibilities to ensure that the party will function smoothly on every level. This includes the preparation for the next general election.

“Therefore, I should not dwell on the things that have happened to me which may distract me from playing my role as Umno deputy president to handle those responsibilities, which is a lot.

“I have come to realise that my position (in the Cabinet) was not important, as it is the party that really matters. What I should care about is the future of the people. We should not be distracted by everything that had happened to me because I want to show that even though I am facing this problem, the most important thing here is the future of the party and the country.

“Therefore, I will do everything that I need to do for the party. I will not be disturbed by the problems I am facing.”

On his supporters’ unhappiness 

Media: “Your supporters are aware that you are still supporting the president but obviously there are going to be a whip in the party ranks right now. How do you plan to utilise this to your advantage?”

Muhyiddin: “As I said just now, I am more concerned about the party’s unity. I should not be involved in the efforts to create disputes and disintegration within the party.

“All these years I have been the deputy president, there was not one collision between me and the president that could spark a crisis. This is because, I know my responsibilities and I know the weak spot of the party.

“If we are too caught up with all the internal quarreling, we will lose. This is the most important thing. On that note, I do not think it would be a problem for me to work (with the Umno president) as usual.

“I will cooperate will all parties including the leaders from BN’s component parties that need assistance from me.”

Media: “Advice to your supporters who are enraged by the decision to drop you? ”

Muhyddin: “I understand how they feel. It is human nature, it is inevitable.

“However, I believe there will be time where they will realise what they need to do. I appreciate their support, I do.

“We feel disappointed and sad. Regardless, we should put our party and country’s interests first. With that being said, we should not do anything that can harm the party in any way.

“If that happened, it would be even more difficult for me as the deputy president to perform my duties. I believe they would understand. At the moment, let us keep our feelings to ourselves and strive for the betterment of our religion, race and nation.”

On the postponed Umno elections

Media: “With Umno election being postponed for 18 months, there is a speculation that after Najib announced the Cabinet reshuffle; it is all about strengthening individuals and not Umno. How do you see this?”

Muhyiddin: “This (party election postponement) is not something new. It has been done before, where the party decided to put the election on hold until after the general election.

“This is done in the hope for party members not to be concerned too much with positions in the party.

“It had happened before where there were conflicts because people start to jostle for positions and neglect the most important thing; to strengthen the party, strategise for general elections and winning them.

“That is the reason we decided to postpone the party election. Whether it is only beneficial for individuals and not the party, some people might say that – without anyone challenging the positions, the status quo would remain intact.

“However, I hope with this decision, we should not take it (the speculation that the postponement was about strengthening individuals)) lightly.

“It is my responsibility together with other council members to ensure that even without elections, the party would not be lackadaisical. The party should be prepared at all time.”

On the timing of his dismissal

Media: “When were you informed about your removal by Najib? Was it before the Cheras (Umno) meeting on Sunday or was it after?”

Muhyiddin: “I was informed by the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday. I was at Sendayan, Negri Sembilan to officiate Matrix Global School.

“I did not realise that it was my last event (as Education Minister). I was told to meet Najib at 11.30 am and I arrived in Putrajaya at 12.15 pm.

“That was when he broke the news to me and I have explained everything that I needed to. I asked him the reason I was invited, whether it had anything to do with Cabinet reshuffle.

“He nodded. I asked him if there was something he wanted to tell me, he could not come up with words. I asked him if my name was not in the list, he nodded and I thanked him.”

On the Cabinet reshuffle

Media: “What do you think of the Cabinet reshuffle? Do you think it is a fair reshuffle?”

Muhyiddin: “As we all know, it is Najib’s prerogative. It is within his capacity as the prime minister.

“I do not want to dispute the decision that has been made but I have explained everything that I needed to. As an experienced political person, I accept the decision.

“I had issued a statement yesterday stating my stance and viewpoint. I thanked Najib for giving me the opportunity to serve the people as the deputy prime minister.

“I have performed to my best ability but it has come down to this. Najib feels that I do not need to continue and I accept it.”

On knowledge about 1MDB

Media: “How much more do you know about 1MDB?”

Muhyiddin: “I get the information via the mentioned sources. I have also referred to some materials to understand the background of the issue. So, I think whatever it is that you know about 1MDB, maybe I know a little more than that.

On replacing Jazlan as PAC chairman

Media: “Do you intend to replace Datuk Nur Jazlan as the chairman of Public Account Committee?”

Muhyiddin: “I have no intention to do that. I am comfortable with where I am now. Let the new leadership determine who would be suggested as the replacement to the parliament committee. We will see.”

On Abdul Gani Patail’s removal as Attorney-General

Media: “On the removal of Tan Sri Gani Patail that was announced on the same day of your dismisal, a lot of people feel this is an interference in the investigation (over 1MDB). Are you going to continue voicing your opinion on 1MDB as you have before?”

Muhyiddin: “On the removal of Gani, it was a decision made by the government.

“I cannot dispute the decision but I hope that whoever replaces him, will continue to take on this huge responsibility and hurry with the legal actions so that the people who have been following this issue closely will get a conclusive answer.

“More importantly, find out if there were offences made so that all perception on 1MDB can be explained without any more doubt. This is important to get closure.

“Anyone appointed as the AG has a huge responsibility on his shoulder and I hope he can perform his duty and be given support and assistance from everyone including from other investigative agencies so that the investigation would come to a conclusion.

“The people want to know the outcome of the investigation and for that we have to wait for it to be completed by the new AG.”

On his state of mind

Media: “Can you sleep last night?”

Muhyiddin: “I had a good sleep; my wife is here even though I went to bed a little late last night.

“A lot of people came to my house including (Kedah Menteri Besar)  Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir and others. It is normal. There is no plan being made whatsoever. They just extended their sympathy and concerns.

“Do not speculate anything. If your friend was treated the way I was, you would come see them as well, but we have to accept the decision with a clear conscience.

“I slept well. Thank you to all who had sent me their supports, including the netizens in the cyberspace who have been giving me the encouragement.

“I appreciate it very much. You give me the strength to continue performing my duties to my best ability.”

In collaboration with Nikita Nawawi.



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at zaidiazmi91@gmail.com.