Refusal to fire Sabah assemblymen, is there a double standard in Umno?

04 Feb 2023 08:51am
Zahid with Sabah Umno Communications Head Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin during a press conference after the meeting with Sabah Umno at the Umno Building on Jan 30.
Zahid with Sabah Umno Communications Head Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin during a press conference after the meeting with Sabah Umno at the Umno Building on Jan 30.

SHAH ALAM - Umno's refusal to take decisive action against five Members of the State Legislative Assembly (ADUN) who supports Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor during the state leadership crisis in the past month, alleges the existence of double standards practice in the party.

National Council of Professors Senior Fellow Dr Jeniri Amir described the decision by Umno Supreme Council (MKT) and the Umno Disciplinary Board for not taking any disciplinary actions against the five assemblymen as unfair, taking into account the fate of some party leaders who were sacked and suspended.

On Jan 8, the five assemblymen in question, which are the Tanjung Keramat assemblymen, Datuk Shahelmey Yahya, Jasnih Daya (Pantai Dalit), Datuk James Ratib (Sugut), Datuk Mohd Arsad Bistari (Tempasuk) and Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob (Sindumin) signed a statutory declaration (SD) to support Hajiji to remain as the Sabah Chief Minister until the end of the state administration term.

This was against Sabah Umno decision led by Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin who was set on withdrawing his support for Hajiji's leadership which allegedly was not aligned with Clause 6 (3) and (7) of the Sabah State Constitution, Jan 6.

Following that, speculation also arose that there would be members who would be sacked or suspended in the MKT meeting which took place at Menara Dato Onn, World Trade Center Kuala Lumpur (WTCKL) last Friday.

However, the MKT meeting did not rule out any decision regarding the position of the five assemblymen who betrayed Sabah Umno.

The decision was instead the opposite, where MKT decided to fire former Umno Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar and former Umno Selangor Chairman Tan Sri Noh Omar for the offence of violating party rules at the 15th General Election (GE15).

Besides Khairy and Noh, Sembrong Member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Umno Youth deputy chief Shahril Sufian Hamdan, former Jempol MP, Datuk Seri Mohd Salim Sharif and Umno Tebrau division chief Datuk Maulizan Bujang whose membership were suspended for six years.

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"Umno's favouritism which only takes harsh disciplinary action against certain leaders is seen to bring a threat to the leadership of the party.

"Surely it will cause confusion and deep dissatisfaction among party members.

"Why should there be such a double standard practice?

"Umno needs to take appropriate strict action against the five assemblymen concerned so that the party is seen as fair and there is no double standard law which is not good for the future of the party," he told Sinar Premium.

Previously, the media reported that five Sabah Umno assemblymen could have their membership suspended for giving support to Hajiji's leadership in a series of political upheavals in the state.

The dismissal dilemma

Meanwhile, Jeniri was in the opinion that Umno was faced with a dilemma to do so as they were worried that the party's influence was declining in Sabah.

He also did not rule out the possibility of Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and MKT had to allow the five assemblymen concerned to be released from any disciplinary action to avoid division in the political party that forms the unity government at a federal level.

"Therefore, the best way is to release the five assemblymen without being subject to disciplinary action even if the Umno constitution clearly demands them to be fired or suspended from the party for violating the instructions of the party leadership.

"If the five assemblymen in question are fired, I believe Sabah Umno's position will become weaker and weaker as time goes on when they really need support from all representatives of the people to resume political continuity ahead of the State Election (PRN) in another two years," said Jeniri.

Asia Office, Development Solutions Sustainable Network PBB at Sunway University deputy head strategy Professor Dr Wong Chin Huat agreed with Jeniri’s view that Umno refused to be stern towards the five Sabah assemblymen to maintain harmony among the parties that form the state government.

"It is clear that Zahid didn't want to trigger more fights. If Umno takes action against the five assemblymen, then they will opt out of Umno.

"If that scenario happens, Zahid will be criticised even more because it is considered to cause deteriorating support for Umno in the state," he said.