By John Isaac
PADANG Rengas MP Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz is the latest party leader to openly call for Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s ouster.
Apart from rebelling party leaders, an audio recording allegedly showing Zahid conspiring with opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to undermine the PN government was also circulated on social media.
The authenticity of the recording is unverified but its circulation among Umno circles suggests the gloves are off in Umno’s internal tussle.
Nazri warned that BN will have a slim chance of winning the 15th general election if Zahid stays on as the Umno president and BN chairperson.
According to Malaysiakini, he also claimed that Zahid no longer commanded respect among BN component parties.
“The BN components do not respect him. Just look at the MIC annual general assembly last weekend, where they invited Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to speak to the delegates.
“If the Umno president and BN chairperson were strong, the component party won’t think of inviting an outsider. It is embarrassing,” Nazri was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today.
Umno is in a feud with Bersatu, of which Muhyiddin is the president.
Zahid has steered Umno on a collision course with Bersatu and plans for the Umno-led BN to go head-to-head against the Bersatu-led PN in the 15th general election.
However, Zahid is being hammered by both factions that are supportive or against the move.
Nazri, who in January withdrew his support for Muhyiddin, suggested that Umno deputy president Mohamed Hasan takes over from Zahid.
He said Umno would not be viewed as a clean party so long as Zahid, who has graft charges hanging over his head, remains as their leader.
Yesterday, Simpang Renggam Umno chief Zakaria Dullah was also reported to have openly called for Zahid to step down.
Calls from party members have also been growing against postponing the Umno leadership election in June, as such a move would allow Zahid to stay on as Umno president beyond his three-term limit.
The Umno constitution allows the party election to be postponed for up to 18 months.
Taking to social media, Johor Executive Council member Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi joined the call to urge Zahid to step down.
“The election is getting closer and the drums have been rolled. The people will definitely want to know who the prime minister candidate is offered by Umno,” said the Layang-Layang state assemblyperson.
Onn Hafiz, who is also Simpang Renggam division deputy chief, said the party election should be held immediately as many perceived that Umno may not stand a chance in winning the polls if the party is being led by Zahid.
“Wouldn’t it be easier if the president steps down in order to save the party?” he said, adding that Umno should have learned its lesson from BN’s defeat in the 2018 general election.
He was referring to Najib Abdul Razak, who led BN into the election battlefield amid the 1MDB scandal.
Zahid is facing 47 charges in court involving criminal breaches of trust, corruption and money laundering of tens of millions of ringgit of Yayasan Akalbudi funds.