Tajuddin episode could drive Umno to retract support for govt earlier

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Tajuddin Abdul Rahman’s sacking as Prasarana chairman and a probe by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission could make Umno retract its support for the Perikatan Nasional-led government earlier than August, says a party source.

The source said Umno leaders were confident that the sacking and the MACC probe into alleged abuse of power by Tajuddin were part of Bersatu’s “political games” aimed at “taking revenge against senior Umno leaders”.

He said the party is expected to decide on the right time to end its cooperation with Bersatu at the next Supreme Council meeting, which has not been fixed yet.

Last month, Tajuddin told FMT that Umno would withdraw its support for the Muhyiddin Yassin-led government by August at the latest, even if Parliament is not dissolved by then to make way for GE15.

However, Tajuddin, the party’s elections director, later said Umno would reconsider its decision to withdraw support in August if the number of Covid-19 cases remained high.

Umno makes up the biggest bloc of MPs in the PN government, and its retraction of support is expected to cause Muhyiddin’s government to fall.

The source said many Umno leaders did not question the government’s right to sack Tajuddin, but regretted the fact that the Pasir Salak MP was not given any chance to defend himself.

“Tajuddin was appointed upon the prime minister’s agreement. Why didn’t the prime minister call him up first? Why tell the finance minister to issue the letter to sack him?” he questioned.

He said the way finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz was so quick to issue the letter even on a public holiday (Wesak Day) only caused more questions to be raised.

He also said Umno leaders were shocked when MACC “suddenly” launched a probe into Tajuddin over allegations of abuse of power, saying they had never heard of him facing such allegations.

“It’s like they’re trying to take a swipe at senior Umno leaders,” he added.

Azman Ghani/The Star

Tajuddin was sacked as Prasarana chairman on Wednesday following his controversial press conference a day after the worst LRT accident in history, which left 213 injured and more than 60 sent to hospital.

He had been slammed by Malaysians for being insensitive and rude during his press conference, with many calling for his resignation and describing his press conference as a public relations disaster.

A day after his sacking, Tajuddin was called in for questioning by the MACC and later released. He is being investigated under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 for using his office or position for gratification.

Following Tajuddin’s press conference blunder, the Umno source said Tajuddin was advised by senior leaders to relinquish his post in Prasarana, but he refused to do so.

“Sorry to say this, but he’s not suitable for the post. Many others are more qualified, such as the Umno Youth chief (Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki) or Tok Mat (Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan), since they have background in the field of economy.

“Tajuddin’s appointment was a mistake from the get-go. I don’t know if there was any agreement between him and the prime minister at the time,” the source added.

Tajuddin was appointed non-executive chairman of Prasarana on May 11, 2020. – FMT