An official of Muhyiddin Yassin today confirmed an agreement that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob would appoint a deputy prime minister from Bersatu, saying the deal had been witnessed by ministers from both that party and Umno.
Marzuki Mohamad, Muhyiddin's senior private secretary-general during his time as prime minister, said the parties involved had agreed that the deal could not be made public.
"It was signed by Muhyiddin and the prime minister on Aug 17, 2021, and witnessed by a minister from Bersatu and another minister from Umno," he said in a statement today.
"As the official of the eighth prime minister at the time, I was directly involved in preparing the agreement."
The appointment of a deputy prime minister became an issue after Muhyiddin, who is chairman of Perikatan Nasional, said the matter had been raised during a meeting with Ismail.
Muhyiddin, who resigned from the top office after losing the support of the majority last August, said he had met with Ismail to consider what he said was the previous agreement between the coalition and the prime minister.
"We are not asking for more (than what has been agreed), only about the appointment of a deputy prime minister and ministers as well as those involving government-linked agencies and statutory bodies as well as the government’s allocations," he said.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa later said it was not wrong for Muhyiddin to raise the issue, but that any appointment of a deputy prime minister or other members of the Cabinet was the prerogative of the prime minister.
The prime minister's economic adviser Shahril Hamdan meanwhile denied any agreement between Ismail and Muhyiddin.
"There is no agreement as far as I know," he said. "If there was, why are we only hearing claims of it now?
"And if there was, why are there senior ministers?" Shahril, the Umno information chief, was reported as saying.
Muhyiddin himself had appointed Ismail as his deputy prime minister despite having senior ministers in his Cabinet.
In his statement today, Marzuki said a clause in the agreement had stated that the documents in the deal could not be published or disclosed in any form.
"They can only be kept for reference by the parties involved," he said.