PETALING JAYA: In 1985, Musa Hitam, then deputy prime minister, was disturbed when then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad started talking about a plot to topple him.
Mahathir even mentioned this at the Umno Supreme Council meeting.
Musa was in the dark about whom Mahathir was referring to and decided to confront the boss.
“His answer was as brutal as it was to the point: ‘You-lah!’.”
Musa recalled the shock and disappointment he felt at this accusation in his new book, titled “Frankly Speaking”.
It was then that Musa realised that his position had become untenable in the party.
“I made up my mind to resign. How could I stay when he no longer trusted me?
“How could I perform as his deputy while I was being accused as trying to ‘kill’ him politically?
“How could I continue to work with him and support him when the relationship had reached that point?”
In the book, Musa claimed that Mahathir attempted to manipulate his (Musa’s) frustration over Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s appointment to the Cabinet as the reason for his sudden surprise resignation.
Tengku Razaleigh (Ku Li) was named the trade and industry minister despite losing to Musa in the deputy president’s race in 1984.
Musa explained that it seemed inconceivable that Ku Li would retain his post or be given a high position after his defeat.
Musa also denied that the Memali Incident in 1985 – which saw 14 villagers and four policemen killed following a siege on a village that was occupied by a deviant Islamic sect – was the main reason he stepped down from the post.
He felt he was being blamed for things that went wrong in the incident.
“It had everything to do with the fact that I was accused of plotting against my boss and planning to topple the government.”
Musa alleged in the book that a group, comprising Umno leaders like Anwar Ibrahim, Daim Zainuddin and Sanusi Junid, may have given Mahathir the idea that he was plotting against the prime minister.
Musa resigned his post in February 1986. He explained that the long period between his confrontation with Mahathir and his resignation was due to the fact that he wanted to settle some matters.
This included giving a full explanation to the public on the Memali incident, preparing the government’s White Paper on the subject and Mahathir’s impending visit to his Kota Tinggi parliamentary constituency.