Sacked deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin held a news conference on Wednesday in which he said he would not be involved in efforts that would cause a break-up of UMNO.
The Wall Street Journal report this month said investigators had found that almost US$700 million had moved through government agencies, banks and companies linked to 1MDB before ending up in Najib’s accounts. In a statement to local media, the government said that he had been removed on health grounds.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said he could accept differences of opinion and criticism but ministers should not air them openly because it could jeopardise public perception towards the Government and country.
The decision to replace Muhyiddin was very hard, he said, but “I must have a solid and unified team moving in the same direction”.
Mr Muhyiddin had been a frequent critic of Mr Najib, who was already under pressure from influential former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has called for him to step down.
Najib Razak announces cabinet reshuffle after his deputy asked him for explanation of alleged fraud at investment fund.
Mr Najib, who has claimed the attack against him is politically motivated, has not disputed the existence of the accounts or the receipt of the funds, but has insisted that he never used public money for his personal gain.
Muhyiddin said he did not know if a no-confidence vote against Najib as proposed by the opposition would take place, but he pledged to follow whatever his party decided.
“What happened today breaches every rule that forms the core principles of a democracy…This is only compounding the crisis, not solving it”, said Ambiga Sreenevasan, the president of the National Human Rights Society (Hakam), a Malaysian non-governmental organization.
Muhyiddin said he accepted the decision because it was the prerogative of the Prime Minister. He also sacked four cabinet ministers Mohd Shafie Apdal, Hasan Malek, G. Palanivel and Ewon Ebin and appointed seven new ministers. The turn marked the first time Mr. Najib had been directly connected to the 1MDB probes. “This call is also in line with him being dropped from deputy prime minister”.
Meanwhile, Cameron has also been asked to meet the opposition leaders and not just the government to show solidarity with those who are seriously considering his campaign against corruption.
Najib thanked Muhyiddin and those ministers who were no longer in the Cabinet for all their work for and dedication to the government and country.
“It is as if Muhyiddin did not understand and purposely criticised the leadership of Najib in the issue of 1MDB that was popularised by the opposition”.
He added: ‘The Malaysian people expect the British PM to hold the moral high ground and to send an unequivocal message to Najib that he can not enjoy the privilege of sitting among Western democratic leaders if he continues his heavy-handed repression at home.’.
The prime minister has been targeted in recent months by an ongoing corruption investigation led by Patail.