Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob clocked in at the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office at Perdana Putra here today to start his duty as the number two leader in the country’s administration.
Clad in a blue suit, Ismail Sabri arrived at the Perdana Putra compound at 10am and was welcomed by the Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali and and Senior Deputy Secretary-General of the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Jamil Rakon.
Ismail Sabri, 61, was appointed deputy prime minister last Wednesday, while retaining the portfolio as Defence Minister.
After clocking into his office, which is on Level 4, he then signed the Welcome Book, following which a prayer, led by Integrity Officer at the Prime Minister’s Department Muhd Redza Ahmad, was held before he attended the National Security Council (NSC) Emergency Session meeting which was held virtually with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Two senior Umno leaders were in conflict over the legitimacy of a letter declaring Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmakers’ support for Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, who is also Pontian MP, said he was unaware of the letter sent out to pledge BN’s backing for Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional administration to continue leading “the agenda defending the people”.
“No one contacted me about that statement,” Ahmad told Malay Mail when contacted.
However, former BN secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa confirmed that the letter sent out without the coalition’s letterhead was genuine.
When asked why ex-BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak claimed not to know about the letter, the Ketereh MP pointedly said this was unlikely.
“That Najib… he already knows everything,” said Annuar, an outspoken Umno leader and a staunch critic of his party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Annuar, who is also a member of the Muhyiddin Cabinet, then said there were more important issues facing the country at the moment.
He noted that Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation remained critical and all efforts should be directed towards the health crisis.
“Let’s concentrate on helping the rakyat and vaccinating KL… I want to achieve 80 per cent (vaccination) by month’s end… regardless of how many daily cases (there are),” he added.
The letter sent out yesterday was presented as coming from all of the former ruling coalition’s federal lawmakers.
Referring to the Umno supreme council’s decision to immediately withdraw support from the PN coalition, the letter noted that the Malay nationalist party has given its MPs the discretion on how to vote in Parliament.
All BN lawmakers would consequently continue supporting the PN administration as their priority was to ensure the success of the government’s National Recovery Plan to overcome the pandemic.
Last night, however, Najib questioned the authenticity of the letter claiming to represent all BN lawmakers.
“Eh… I am also a BN parliamentarian. Since when did I agree to override the Umno supreme council’s decision yesterday?” the Pekan MP said on his Facebook page.
He then asked the letter’s issuer to list down all of the coalition’s lawmakers who have endorsed the message.
“I was the one who signed the letters of nomination for each BN MP who is here today. That is why I would surely know the names of each and every BN parliamentarian. Please give the name list,” said Najib.
Last night, Ahmad said Umno MPs have been granted the conscience vote in Parliament but reminded them that this must be guided by their party’s position.
Umno’s announcement that it was revoking support for PN has renewed speculation that a vote of no-confidence could feature when Parliament reconvenes on July 26.
Umno has 38 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, the most of any single Malay party. The withdrawal of support could affect Muhyiddin’s position as prime minister but only if a confidence motion is presented in Parliament.
Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun previously said Umno’s announcement would have no legal effect on the government as it was made outside of Parliament.
Some Umno MPs including Annuar have also since disputed Ahmad Zahid’s announcement, saying it did not accurately reflect the decisions of their party’s supreme council.
Another Umno veteran, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz reportedly claimed there were at least 32 Umno MPs backing Muhyiddin’s government and dared his party to sack them all for not toeing the party line.