Zahid warns PM Umno has ‘power to set its own course’

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Wants Umno to get a new mandate through GE15.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has warned Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob that the party has the power to determine its direction if the latter does not want to call for the 15th general election (GE15) this year.

“Umno is a party that respects the Federal Constitution and we understand that the power to dissolve Parliament lies with the cabinet.

Aswadi Alias/NST

“The prime minister also has to deal with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on this matter. And while we don’t want to interfere in this, Umno, as a responsible party, also has the right to determine its own course of direction,” said Zahid during his policy speech at the 2021 Umno General Assembly at the World Trade Centre today.

Zahid’s response comes after Ismail yesterday said that the party has not discussed when to hold GE15, although many Umno leaders have already raised the issue.

Ismail had also previously said that he was in no rush to call for a snap election as the current Parliament term only ends in July 2023. Besides Ismail, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has also asked for more time to allow the public health situation due to the Covid-19 epidemic to stabilise.

Zahid added the outcome of the recent state elections in Johor and Melaka and previous by-elections showed that the sentiment for Umno was favourable.

“The ‘mood’ (sentiments) on the ground is in our favour, so what are we waiting for?” he said.

Zahid told delegates that the assembly must listen to the demand of its grassroots who want the party to get a new mandate through GE15.

“I am hoping that we will give it back to the people to choose. Let them decide. Let’s get a new mandate for Umno.

“When people want to embrace us, we must accept them. Do not only cry after we lose their support.

“The more we make them wait, the more the rakyat will suffer, and the worse the country will become,” he said.

GE15, he said, will enable the party to offer a “new deal” to the people who are longing for reforms in the country’s political landscape.

“The people want reforms of political institutions to be carried out to put an end to any uncertainties in the country’s political landscape.

“Umno, therefore, must be quick and forward to champion reforms of the country’s political institutions,” he said.

Besides continuing its momentum, Umno wants to hold GE15 this year before the party holds its polls at year-end.

Additionally, Zahid said that although Umno is in the current Barisan Nasional-Perikatan Nasional government, its views were being ignored and important posts were given to others.

As such, Zahid also reminded Ismail to “tighten the screws and clear the drainage” on a group of Umno ministers and deputy ministers who have defied party leadership.

“There is a group that doesn’t know how to give thanks. They forget that their positions and power come with support from the party.

“But when they are in power, they call us all sorts of names (court cluster, etc). Why do they ask us for help when they need support?”

He added that these leaders are only interested in furthering their political careers.

“Remember, that this Putrajaya cluster has not been charged yet or cleared of speculation,” said Zahid.

The party president, however, did not elaborate on what he meant by Putrajaya cluster.

But Umno, said Zahid, has come a long way since supporting PN for 17 months.

“This situation was so dire until 15 MPs had to withdraw their support from Muhyiddin Yassin, although, 23 others supported.

“But all are now united again to support Ismail,” he said.

He lamented that the previous administration also looked for all sorts of excuses to slap Umno politicians with criminal charges.

“Some of us are clean because no charges have been brought against us yet. But they are looking for it.

“These people are bad, they are vindictive. So, to ensure (we will have a government) that is not vindictive and vengeful, Umno must again be dominant (in the government) in the next general election,” Zahid said.