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Muhyiddin's men and the price and pain of loyalty

SPECIAL REPORT | In Umno, patronage, and politics are often intertwined. Umno warlords, through their vast resources, maintain their support by dishing out patronage.

But when an Umno warlord falls and his ability to dish out patronage diminishes, his support too evaporates.

One such former Umno warlord is Muhyiddin Yassin, who in the early months of his sacking as deputy prime minister in 2015, and later Umno deputy president in 2016, saw his Umno division deputy Ismail Mohamed openly supporting him.

Ismail, who since took over from Muhyiddin to become Pagoh Umno chief, has now chosen to be less vocal, and is touted to be among the candidates set to challenge Muhyiddin in the next general election.

Even Johor Umno chief Mohamed Khaled Nordin, when officiating the Pagoh Umno division delegates' meeting in 2016, called Muhyiddin a "comrade" and expressed his nostalgia towards the Pagoh MP.

A year later, at the Pagoh Umno division delegates' meeting last month, Khaled urged them to move on from the nostalgia.

Ismail is a Johor exco while Khaled is the Johor menteri besar. For top Umno leaders, continuing to support Muhyiddin would have meant they not only risked losing their positions, but also access and ability to dispense patronage.

The same reality is reflected at the grassroots level. However, there are some who have chosen to remain loyal to Muhyiddin, who now leads the Umno splinter Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

For these loyalists, they are already being made to pay the price for their defiance...

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