SEMPORNA - Loyalty to an institution should never be equated with blind allegiance to its leader, Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.
He said in the case of Umno, while members should always remain faithful to the party, they had every right to question any leader who had gone on the wrong track.
"Loyalty to a leader is only up to a certain extent and if that person remains on the right path.
"We cannot remain loyal to a leader who is in the wrong," said the former deputy prime minister when opening the Semporna Umno division meeting yesterday.
Muhyiddin said he and former Rural Development Minister Datuk Shafie Apdal had never harboured any ulterior motives when questioning the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) issue in Cabinet.
"As elected representatives, we are entrusted to voice out the concerns of the people. This is expected of us," he said, adding that the nation had never been confronted with a problem as huge as the debts racked up by 1MDB.
"Yet we are told not to question it."
He also claimed that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had asked him why he was making an issue about the sovereign fund's debts when it did not involve the people's money.
"I told him billions of ringgit were being borrowed to settle 1MDB's debts and this would eventually become the country's liability," he said.
He also questioned 1MDB chief executive Arul Kanda Kandasamy's assurance on Friday that the fund's financial situation could improve within six months when the Cabinet had earlier been told that it was only attainable by next year.
He said the 1MDB issue had put Malaysia in the spotlight for the wrong reasons and that the value of the ringgit taking a nose dive was not only caused by the strengthening of the US dollar and commodity prices.
"It is also partly due to the fact that issues like 1MDB have not been resolved," he said.
Shafie, who is Umno vice-president and Semporna Umno chief, said in his speech earlier that his loyalty to the party was more important than his friendship with Najib, whom he described as an old friend.
He said Umno was bigger than any individual and that as a member and leader, it was his responsibility to see that the party remained strong.
"There is no point in us trying to serve the interests of an individual or defend our positions but ignore issues, as the people will eventually desert us," said Shafie.
He also said he was not worried about not having any post in the Government.
"Whether I have a post or not is immaterial. What I am more concerned about is the people rejecting us because we ignored the party's struggles," he added.