No internal move to remove Zahid - Umno leadership

Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan said that Umno is now focused on efforts to obtain a full pardon for Najib for the second time.

Mohd Faizul Haika Mat Khazi
Mohd Faizul Haika Mat Khazi
05 Feb 2024 10:09am
Zahid at the Kuala Lumpur World Trade Centre (WTC-KL) on Sunday. Photo by Bernama (Inset from left: Jamil Khir, Ahmad)
Zahid at the Kuala Lumpur World Trade Centre (WTC-KL) on Sunday. Photo by Bernama (Inset from left: Jamil Khir, Ahmad)

SHAH ALAM - Umno leadership has dismissed rumours of an internal movement seeking to oust party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as "mere speculation" intended to sow discord within the party.

Responding to claims that 191 Umno division chiefs were pushing for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to remove Zahid, Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom urged everyone to verify the authenticity and truth of any news or information before disseminating it to others.

He urged party members to adopt a "tabayyun" attitude, seeking clarification to avoid "slander."

"I feel there is no movement to oust the Umno President. Your action in asking me as one of the Umno division chiefs is correct because as Muslims, we need to adopt a 'tabayyun' attitude.

"Speculation like this, if not verified for its authenticity, will give rise to slander," he told Sinar yesterday.

Jamil made these remarks when asked to comment on rumours of an internal party movement aiming to remove Zahid as Umno President, allegedly orchestrated by some supporters of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

This follows the perception among grassroots Umno members that Najib's failure to receive a full pardon from the Federal Territories Pardons Board has put the Deputy Prime Minister and the party in a challenging position.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court originally sentenced Najib to 12 years in prison over the RM42 million SRC International corruption case.

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He was also fined RM210 million.

His conviction and punishments were subsequently upheld in the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.

The Pardons Board commuted his sentence when it met last Monday.

While the reduced sentence places his release date in August 2028, Najib could be released earlier on “good behaviour” in August 2026 after serving two-thirds of his sentence.

In further comments, Jamil believed that such negative speculation arises during a challenging time for Umno to strengthen the party for the upcoming 16th General Election.

He added that the dynamic nature of Umno's politics, where members tend to engage in internal political attacks, contributed to this.

He also noted that other parties are busy focusing their efforts on attacking rival parties, while Umno members appear to be more politically divisive.

"Therefore, I believe there is no such movement as claimed by certain parties.

"If there is a movement to oust the president, it might be in other parties, but never involving Umno," he added.

Meanwhile, another Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Ahmad Maslan echoed Jamil in denying any attempt to overthrow Zahid.

Instead, the Deputy Works Minister stressed that Zahid had made the best efforts to secure a full pardon for Najib, who is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence.

"It's not true (there is an attempt to topple Zahid); it's just a jab from parties that want to divide Umno.

"The meeting with all Umno divisions this evening (Sunday) is the result of discussions from the Supreme Council meeting on Friday.

"The meeting this evening is crucial to clarify the actual position of the full pardon and the efforts made by Umno," he added.

Ahmad said that Umno is now focused on efforts to obtain a full pardon for Najib for the second time.

"The president (Zahid) will also explain all efforts in front of 191 Umno division chiefs, Wanita, Youth, and Puteri heads, Women's Exco, Youth, and Puteri division chiefs at Dewan Tun Hussein Onn, World Trade Center (WTC)," he added.

Previously, Umno postponed the Bumiputera Economic Congress Symposium scheduled to be held at the Kuala Lumpur World Trade Centre throughout last weekend.

The symposium, led by Umno Vice President Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani, was supposed to be attended by 2,000 Umno leaders from all 191 divisions nationwide.

The postponement of the symposium was to make way for a special Umno meeting to discuss the latest political developments, particularly related to the reduction of Najib's sentence by the Pardons Board.