KUALA LUMPUR: Six UMNO members of parliament have quit the party, UMNO information chief Shamsul Anuar Nasarah confirmed to Bernama on Friday (Dec 14).
A letter informing the party of the decision was signed by the six and sent to UMNO secretary-general Annuar Musa on Friday afternoon.
Among the six MPs to resign, Larut MP Hamzah Zainuddin said that party president Zahid Hamidi had "failed to establish a clear direction for the party in the current scenario".
"He should step down," he told the New Straits Times in an interview.
He added that as many as 10 MPs could leave the party as well if Mr Zahid refuses to resign.
In a Twitter post on Friday, Mr Zahid called for UMNO members to not panic, describing the situation as "temporary".
In a statement, UMNO deputy president Mohd Hasan said that UMNO needs principled and moral leadership in efforts to rebuild the party.
“It will only recover if we can find leaders who believe that the real fight is the fight to hold on to our principles. The time has come to find those who still believe in UMNO’s ideology, that is to champion centrist politics that will benefit Malays without neglecting the interests of other Malaysians," he added.
“This is politics ... each has his own considerations and plans and we must respect them. There can be no coercion in any struggle and loyalty is not something we can demand from anyone.
“But one thing which we must have in our struggle is principles. A struggle without principles is one that is fragile and definitely not sustainable,” he said.
The resignations came after an earlier exodus on Wednesday saw over a dozen MPs and state assembly persons leave the party to serve as independents, Malaysiakini reported.
Since a shock loss to the Pakatan Harapan coalition at the general elections in May, the former ruling party has been facing a period of departures and uncertainty.