UMNO vice president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin didn't say it in so many words. But it's quite clear that the leadership change within Umno should take place as soon as possible considering the party is now in a 'dangerous zone,' one that it may not recover from if drastic measures are not taken.
In fact, he says the leadership change can take place at any point in time, and need not be at the annual assembly scheduled for December. Muhyiddin's open and frank views can be read in today's Mingguan Malaysia.
In a one-page interview held just before Johore Umno met Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in JB last week, Muhyiddin said: "If we don't take urgent and drastic measures, we will be swept away. I'll even go as far as saying that we may never recover our political power if we fail to act now."
I was alerted of the interview on Saturday by a couple of friends. Mingguan Malaysia is known for political interviews, making it a better read for Malay readers on a leisurely Sunday. Muhyiddin's interview is titled 'Time for Change.'
In recent weeks, Muhyiddin's name has been bandied about as a likely candidate for the party top post. This follows a seemingly innocent mention of his name by former party president and Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, at a forum in PJ about two weeks ago.
I can only assume that Muhyiddin's name was highlighted after some statements he has been making which reflected a more independent view, away from the sound bytes made by other Umno leaders which echoed that of Pak Lah's feelings and opinions.
A sidebar of the interview was devoted to one question on Dr Mahathir's repeated criticisms of the present leadership. Muhyiddin's response was simple and straight-forward. He said Dr M's criticism can be painful and bitter at time, but he says so out of love for the party.
Whether you agree with him or not is another matter, but you cannot ignore his views. Maybe there's a blessing from all his criticisms, Muhyiddin said. Many Umno leaders are still hesitant to speak out, and the others who did appear to be still on a denial mode hangover.