KUALA LUMPUR: Umno delegates seemed disappointed that there was an empty chair next to party president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during a closed door briefing ahead of the Umno general assembly on Thursday.
It was the first time that the party’s deputy president was not present at the briefing, which was customarily the avenue for the party president to set the tone of the assembly.
“It’s a big disappointment. There’s an empty chair. What a waste. We were all waiting for him,” said Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Rahman Abdul Dahlan, after attending the briefing at Putra World Trade Centre here on Tuesday night.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek also described Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s absence as a wasted opportunity.
“It was his choice not to show up, but he had lost the chance to be with other Umno members and listen to the president’s explanation,” he said.
However, Muhyiddin’s absence however was not a concern for the majority of the delegates as Najib chose to focus on more pressing issues such as 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the RM2.6bil donation and the country’s economic standing.
And all the leaders and delegates were receptive to his explanation, said Rahman.
“There were no boos from the delegates, just applause as he explained everything with facts. I can sleep well tonight, knowing that the assembly will run smoothly,” he said.
Former Negri Sembilan mentri besar and Telok Kemang division chief Tan Sri Isa Samad said the delegates reacted positively and gave Najib rousing support throughout the one-hour briefing.
“From day one, I believed the president did not commit any wrongdoing. And we were all satisfied with his explanation,” he said.
Muhyiddin chose not to turn up for the briefing following his speech at Kampung Baru on Monday night, where he publicly urged Najib to go on leave until the 1MDB investigations completed.
He however was expected to attend the supreme council meeting on Wednesday night and opening ceremony of the assembly on Thursday.