Ex-minister defends Muhyiddin after Saifuddin’s cancer jibe

Saifuddin Abdullah (left) and Saifuddin Nasution.

PETALING JAYA: A former minister has defended Muhyiddin Yassin after PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution highlighted the latter’s absence at Cabinet meetings due to health reasons when criticising the prime minister at a ceramah last weekend.

Saifuddin Abdullah, who is aligned with Muhyiddin, said the latter was a cancer survivor who had attended Cabinet meetings “like everyone else” once he recovered.

“To say that he comes only once a month is a gross misrepresentation of the entire thing. We can always check attendance with the chief secretary to the government,” he told FMT.

Muhyiddin was home minister in the administration of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, which collapsed following a week of political turmoil last month.

Saifuddin Abdullah said Muhyiddin was suffering from cancer although he has since recovered, and had been on medical leave for some time.

“We should be happy for him and that he showed that he is a fighter, not use this as his weakness.”

At the ceramah on Saturday, Saifuddin Nasution had said he pitied Muhyiddin whom he claimed had only attended one out of four Cabinet meetings a month as he was suffering from cancer and undergoing treatment.

“He just recovered from cancer. I recall that Muhyiddin often took medical leave attending (meetings) once a month.

“And I thought that if his health is in such a state already and he is now the prime minister with all the pressure, I feel sorry for him,” the former domestic trade and consumerism affairs minister added.

A former Pakatan Harapan minister, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Muhyiddin had been on sick leave for “some weeks”, especially after being sworn in.

He said Muhyiddin had also taken leave for “other matters”, including during by-elections.

“But he went overseas for meetings related to his ministry,” he added.

Former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa meanwhile said he did not want to comment on anyone’s health.

“But I do know some ministers missed the Cabinet (meetings) because they were either travelling abroad or on medical leave.”

In 2018, Muhyiddin went on long medical leave and spent weeks at a Singapore hospital where he underwent surgery to remove a tumour. He also underwent chemotherapy.