MP slams Azalina, says carrying out official duties can never amount to illegal seizure of power.
PETALING JAYA: Umno Supreme Council member Azalina Othman was derided by PKR’s N Surendran today for using the word “coup” to describe Muhyiddin Yassin’s criticisms of the Umno president and Prime Minister, Najib Razak.
He said Azalina’s claim of a “coup” was baseless and illogical, and “a clear abuse of the term”. Turning to the dictionary’s definition of the word “coup”, Surendran said it was absurd for her to suggest an illegal seizure of power lay behind a briefing that the attorney-general had given Muhyiddin, the then deputy prime minister.
Azalina, who is a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, had said on Saturday that Muhyiddin’s statement about the briefing was proof that he was involved in a conspiracy to oust a democratically-elected prime minister.
Muhyiddin had said that Gani Patail, who was then attorney-general, had shown him evidence of what amounted to “a criminal act” regarding the flow of funds from SRC International, then a subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd, and a deposit of RM24 million in Najib’s personal accounts.
Surendran, who is MP for Padang Serai, said: “Carrying out duties provided under the Constitution can never amount to an illegal seizure of power or coup.”
He said the attorney-general was obliged to inform the deputy prime minister, as the second-highest ranking government official, of any evidence of wrongdoing by a prime minister.
He also disputed Azalina’s claim that the briefing had breached the Official Secrets Act. “There is no such thing,” he said. Official secrets as defined by the act included papers of the cabinet and state executive councils and documents on national security, defence and international relations.
“Documents pertaining to any charge being drawn up by the attorney-general is not an official secret,” he said. “The minister must understand that not every official or government document is an official secret.”
He pointed out that a deputy prime minister was fully entitled by law to be briefed on matters involving any official secrets.
Muhyiddin was later dismissed from the Cabinet, and Gani Patail’s contract terminated on health grounds. On Friday, the Umno Supreme Council suspended Muhyiddin as deputy president for failing in his duties.