Nazri the latest party leader to openly call for Zahid’s ouster.
Padang Rengas MP Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz told Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to step down as Umno president today, saying the latter was now a serious liability to the party.
Speaking after a purported recording of Zahid in conversation with PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim emerged online, Nazri said the party must no longer be burdened by Zahid’s unresolved criminal charges.
Zahid is on trial for 47 counts of corruption, criminal breach of trust (CBT) and money laundering.
“I don’t know. I don’t know, but he has to go. Simple as that,” Nazri said, referring to the leaked audio.
“I heard the recording this morning, but of course he denied today, but we shall just give him the benefit of the doubt.
“Other than that, I still believe he should go. There are too many issues on him. Too much baggage which Umno also has to bear. He is a liability,” Nazri said.
This morning, a four-minute video containing the recorded phone conversation purportedly between Zahid and Anwar was posted online.
The two speakers discussed Zahid’s speech at the Umno assembly declaring that his party would contest the 15th general election on its own and said this was not an end to their joint efforts.
Zahid has issued a statement rejecting the recording as false and denying he spoke with Anwar after the Umno general assembly, but he is already under attack from those in his party who accused him of conspiring with Umno’s political rivals.
Last month, Anwar disclosed that his PKR and Umno have started preliminary discussions on the possibility of cooperating for the 15th general election.
Publicly, Zahid has denied this repeatedly.
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.
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 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.
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 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.