There are ongoing efforts to oust Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Umno’s advisory board chairman Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah confirmed today.
However, the Umno veteran said this is unsurprising and common for anyone holding the highest post in the Malay-centric party.
“I have heard of such things, going on all the time. These are Malays. Whoever goes up must pull them down. I am not involved in such matters. If I wanted to fight, I’ll fight openly,” he was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian in an interview.
However, the Gua Musang MP, commonly known as Ku Li, said ousting Zahid to enable Umno to return to the Perikatan Nasional fold will not succeed as the grassroots have made their intentions known.
“Impossible, impossible…maybe one or two are willing to support, but people have expressed their refusal because of 191 divisions, 147 have passed motions to not have cooperation with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
“This is no small number. 147 divisions nationwide rejected the cooperation. If he wants to go against that sentiment, I think it would be difficult,” he said.
He added that Umno has strong roots in the country and it should not kowtow to splinter parties like PAS and Bersatu.
“PAS split from Umno in 1951 and tried to bring down Umno but failed,” he said.
He also said that the 15 former Umno MPs who left the party for Bersatu following the 14th General Election did not carry over Umno’s strong grassroots support.
Tengku Razaleigh said Umno needed to continue strengthening its foundation in order to achieve its goals.
“Without a strong foundation, we cannot move forward,” he said.
At the recent Umno general assembly, the party said it had decided to cut ties with Perikatan lynchpin party, Bersatu, as it prepares for the next general election.
Soon after Zahid’s presidential speech at the assembly, Tengku Razaleigh said Umno leaders in the Perikatan government should resign from their positions immediately.
However, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin later said that he managed to convince Umno ministers to stay for the benefit of the country.
Yesterday, Tengku Razaleigh said the current crop of Umno ministers in the PN government lack principles and are aimless for failing to heed the party’s call to resign from their posts.
“Sorry to say this, but they lack principle and are aimless. They just want to hang on to their jobs (ministerial posts).
“When people ask me what should the Umno members do, I say they should resign and get out of this government,” he said.
As for nominating the ministers who refused to resign their posts for seats in GE15, Ku Li said he was not sure how the party leadership will deal with this.
“I feel that they (Umno ministers) don’t show any discipline,” he said.
“They don’t show any proper allegiance. So, I would cut them out and not have them back.”
He said if the Umno ministers want to stand in GE15, they should resign from their posts, come back and prepare for the election.
“They have been given jobs and they want to stick with it. Some of them think it is better to be a minister than not having anything.
“It is not just them (Umno ministers) who will lose. We (Umno) may get dragged down too.”
Ku Li said if the ministers want an election, they should get out of PN now, which will see the ruling coalition losing seats in the Dewan Rakyat.
He said Umno should then go to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and ask for Parliament to be dissolved and have an election and see what mandate the people will give.
“Let’s go back to the people and let them decide who is to lead,” he said.
Umno ministers who are in Muhyiddin’s cabinet, however, said it is too premature to quit their posts now.
Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said all this talk about asking Umno ministers to quit cabinet should stop as the AGM had decided that they will remain in government until Parliament is dissolved.
“The Umno general assembly is the highest authority in the party. Their decision is final,” Ismail said yesterday.
Meanwhile, Tengku Ku Razaleigh yesterday claimed Umno has never labelled itself a Malay-Islamic government, and Barisan Nasional had always had a multicultural policy.
He said the party had never leaned towards any religious denomination or ideological policies.
“There is no such thing. We don’t believe in that (Malay-Islamic government) because we have a mixed society.
“I don’t believe in that. All this labelling is not right,” he was quoted as saying.
Tengku Razaleigh was commenting on Zahid’s speech at the annual general assembly, where he vowed to amend the federal constitution to strengthen shariah law should Umno win a two-thirds majority in the general election.
Zahid said it was necessary to do this after recent court decisions, which could diminish the power of the shariah system in matters of religion.
Tengku Razaleigh said shariah was never Umno’s policy.
“Even PAS never said that. They want an Islamic state and to implement shariah laws where it is applicable,” he said.
“We do not promote that (shariah). However, we are not blind to our Islamic obligations.”
Ku Li added Malaysians are more united than before as the feeling of oneness is there.
“If politicians keep quiet and not talk too much about Bumiputera, ethnicity, cultural backgrounds, it will be better for society and our nation to develop.
“The young (generation) are not conscious about all these. They want to move forward,” he added.