The meeting was the spark which led to the Umno president’s open confrontation with Muhyiddin Yassin.
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi met Muhyiddin Yassin just days after the latter’s appointment as prime minister on March 1 last year in a bid to get his corruption charges dropped, MalaysiaNow can reveal.
Zahid had come bearing files related to the corruption charges, hoping to lay out his argument to convince the newly installed prime minister to help him get his charges dropped.
The meeting took place at a late hour, after a larger meeting involving key Perikatan Nasional (PN) leaders at Muhyiddin’s Bukit Damansara home.
“But he went back disappointed, files in hand,” a source that was privy to the meeting in the first week of March 2020 told MalaysiaNow.
“Yes, he brought his files along. Muhyiddin outright refused to entertain his request,” the source added.
Zahid is part of the so-called “court cluster”, a reference to a group of senior Umno leaders who are facing hundreds of charges of corruption, criminal breach of trust and money laundering.
Of these, Zahid and Najib face the most charges.
Zahid has been slapped with 47 charges involving tens of millions of ringgit of funds from his charity outfit Yayasan Akalbudi.
Many of those in the group have turned adversary against Muhyiddin despite their party being part of his administration.
Earlier this year, Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan, who is charged with dodging taxes on RM2 million received from Najib, described the charges against Umno leaders as a “cruel” legacy of the Pakatan Harapan government.
The meeting in March 2020 is believed to be the spark that led to the faultlines between Zahid and Muhyiddin, culminating in the decision by Umno last weekend to cut ties with Bersatu and the PN bloc.
The Umno general assembly was focused on endorsing Zahid’s proposal that the party cut ties with the PN bloc at the next general election.
Zahid had again met with Muhyiddin on October 9, in a meeting detailed by MalaysiaNow.
That meeting took place just two days before Zahid and Najib wrote a joint letter to the palace expressing support for Anwar Ibrahim, ahead of the PKR chief’s royal audience with the Agong to show proof of his majority support to become the prime minister.
Zahid met Muhyiddin again on Oct 17, this time with PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang also present, alongside Ahmad Maslan, Takiyuddin Hassan and Hamzah Zainudin, the secretary-generals of Umno, PAS and Bersatu.
According to details made known to MalaysiaNow by an insider, Muhyiddin had pressed Zahid about his unhappiness which led him to express support for Anwar.
The insider said Muhyiddin told Zahid that he had no say in court matters.
“But as a friend, he (Muhyiddin) said he would pray that Zahid will be acquitted,” it added.