KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan today accused former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin of fabricating a tale to get out of a sticky situation after being sued for defamation by Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

According to Shahril, Muhyiddin concocted the claim that he was approached by Zahid to intervene in the latter’s criminal cases because Umno no longer wanted nor needed to ally itself with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia to win the next general election.

“Firstly the president has repeatedly said he wants to clear his name through the court process.

“Secondly, if this happened at the beginning of the establishment of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government as alleged by Muhyiddin, why did he only reveal this matter during the Johor state election, which is two years after the formation of the first PN government?”, Shahril asked on his Facebook page.

He was referring to Muhyiddin’s recent court filing that Zahid sought his intervention in court matters back in 2020, shortly after Muhyiddin became Malaysia’s eighth prime minister.

Shahril questioned Muhyiddin’s reason in releasing this information only now, after being pressured by Umno president Zahid through the defamation suit.

The Umno information chief claimed Muhyiddin’s disclosure through the court filing to be a “desperate” act to escape taking responsibility for Bersatu’s “insincerity in befriending Umno” previously.

Muhyiddin is Bersatu president.

Bersatu and Umno had temporarily joined forces to oust the elected Pakatan Harapan from Putrajaya in February 2020.

The two Malay parties have since taken antagonistic stances against each other, and even faced off in recent state elections.

Shahril claimed that Muhyiddin had “no problem” accepting Umno’s help when Bersatu needed lawmakers to support his leadership to form government.

“When Umno no longer wants to be together, it’s whole different matter now,” Shahril added.

He said this reversal showed that Muhyiddin was creating a “fictional story” in filing court papers claiming Zahid sought his intervention in response to the defamation suit, or that Muhyiddin “only cared about his position as prime minister”.

Shahril claimed that the “proper narrative” in this issue is that Zahid was able to lead Umno from bottoming out in the polls previously to victory again.

“Ahmad Zahid has brought success in an unimaginable short period of time during the post 14th general election period despite receiving pressure from various parties since 2018.

“So, the party’s opponents will always feel unsettled, throwing various allegations with the intention of toppling, even though he is yet to be convicted,” Shahril said.