- Former deputy Muhyiddin Yassin, and Mukhriz Mahathir both out
- Najib says both men sacked for breaching UMNO party rules
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has strengthened his hold over the ruling United Malays National Organisation after the party’s supreme council voted unanimously on Friday to expel two prominent opponents of his leadership.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Mukhriz Mahathir, the son of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, were expelled for breaching party rules. They had both appeared onstage alongside opposition leaders in a public campaign led by Mahathir to force Najib from office over a fundraising scandal.
“They were on the same stage as the opposition leaders giving speeches about the party and its leadership,” Najib said on Friday. “This is a very big offense and based on their actions, the party has decided to sack them.”
Najib is facing his biggest political crisis since coming to power seven years ago as questions linger over how $681 million appeared in his personal accounts before the 2013 general election. Najib has said the funds were a donation from the Saudi royal family.
Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali in January closed the door on a graft probe, clearing Najib of wrongdoing over the “personal contribution.” The premier later returned $620 million that was not utilized in the election campaign, according to Ali.
UMNO had also suspended the membership of Shafie Apdal, former Minister for Rural and Regional Development and party vice-president.
Along with his father Mahathir, Mukhriz has become the public face of a campaign against Najib. They have target Najib’s management of the economy, and concerns over the finances of troubled government investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd.