Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s letter to the Agong, in which the Umno president expressed support for his PKR counterpart Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister, was sent just 48 hours after he met with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, an investigation by MalaysiaNow confirms.
What followed were tense gatherings at Muhyiddin’s house as ministers expressed shock and disbelief, and another private confrontation between Muhyiddin and Zahid, where the latter demanded that several of his colleagues in the Cabinet be sacked.
The Oct 11 letter, co-signed by former Umno president Najib Razak, was sent ahead of a royal audience granted to Anwar at Istana Negara on Oct 13, where he was supposed to provide proof of his claim to possessing the majority support of MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.
But two days before that, Zahid had met Muhyiddin at the latter’s residence in Bukit Damansara.
During that meeting, Zahid gave his commitment to the prime minister of Umno’s support, at a time when Anwar was predicting the doom and eventual collapse of Muhyiddin’s government.
An insider who revealed details of the meeting to MalaysiaNow said Zahid also went a step further by asking if Muhyiddin’s Bersatu would like to become the third member of Muafakat Nasional.
Muafakat Nasional is the charter inked by Umno and PAS during their time in the opposition, a move by the two Malay-based parties to formalise their cooperation after decades of rivalry.
“Yet, 48 hours later, Zahid and Najib sent their letter to Istana Negara expressing their support for Anwar to replace Muhyiddin as prime minister,” the insider told MalaysiaNow.
He added that the letter was prepared without the knowledge of any of the Umno Supreme Council members.
“Only the two of them knew about it. No one else,” he said.
Shocked Umno ministers
So how did a letter to the palace, sent in secret without anyone’s knowledge, become known to the public?
Two days later, on Oct 15, a representative from Istana Negara called on Muhyiddin to give him a copy of Zahid’s letter.
“The letter was prepared without the knowledge of any of the Umno Supreme Council members.”
“That same night, the PM summoned all Umno ministers to his house, where he revealed to them the letter of support for Anwar by Zahid and Najib,” the insider said.
During the meeting, the Umno ministers voiced four demands of Muhyiddin, saying they had come under pressure from party members.
“They said the party had not been given the positions it deserved in the government,” an aide who was briefed about the meeting told MalaysiaNow.
“But all of them were shocked upon learning about Zahid’s letter, and said that they had never supported Anwar. They then resolved to bring up the matter to the Umno Supreme Council.”
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The next day, the contents of the letter were revealed to MalaysiaNow. Soon, several purported copies of it were making the rounds on social media.
The Umno Supreme Council meeting to discuss the revelation was postponed many times.
“By this time, Zahid was aware that Umno ministers knew about his letter,” said the insider.
Zahid’s demand: sack Umno ministers
On Oct 17, Muhyiddin, who is Bersatu president, arranged for a meeting with Zahid and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang to discuss Muafakat Nasional.
Also present were Ahmad Maslan, Takiyuddin Hassan and Hamzah Zainuddin, the secretary-generals of Umno, PAS and Bersatu.
During the meeting, Muhyiddin brought up the elephant in the room: Zahid’s letter to the palace.
“When the PM produced the letter, Zahid reacted by saying, ‘There’s no need to bring the letter out’.”
An aide to Muhyiddin then handed the letter to Hamzah, who showed it to a visibly shocked Hadi.
Zahid demanded that he be appointed as deputy prime minister and listed the names of Umno leaders whom he said should be dropped from the Cabinet.
They include Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba, Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, and National Unity Minister Halimah Sadique.
These demands further raised temperatures at the meeting.
‘What do you really want?’
Muhyiddin then questioned Zahid about his intentions and what he wanted.
“Zahid accused the prime minister of breaking his promise,” the insider said.
“Muhyiddin then said he had never promised anything. Zahid said that initially, when Umno supported Bersatu to form the government, it was for Dr Mahathir Mohamad to become the PM, not Muhyiddin.
“Muhyiddin pressed Zahid again about his unhappiness. Zahid replied that as president of Umno, he should have been appointed the deputy prime minister.”
At this point, Hamzah interrupted: “Is it about your case?”
Zahid answered “no”.
“Then what?” Hamzah pressed.
“I’m embarrassed to tell but there are many things that are not right,” Zahid said.
Muhyiddin then told Zahid that he had no say in court matters.
“But as a friend, he said he would pray that Zahid will be acquitted.”
Zahid is facing 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering involving funds belonging to his foundation, Yayasan Akalbudi.