KUALA LUMPUR: United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) can withdraw its support for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government "any time" if there are no indications of a general election in the near future, said party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
"It is understood that the delegates have given the mandate to the president and the supreme council to determine that we can withdraw from the PN government any time," he said in his closing remarks at the party's two-day general assembly on Sunday (Mar 28).
The leadership will pull out of PN, he added, if the latter does not indicate an intention to call for the 15th general election "in the very near future".
Ahmad Hamidi, who is a former deputy prime minister, added that he expected all members to follow the party's decision.
"Just now in my policy speech, I mentioned that there is a possibility of them holding on for a full term.
"If that is their decision, I am confident that our friends in the supreme council, especially the ministers, deputy ministers and GLC (government-linked corporations) chairmen, as well as all MPs, will adhere 100 per cent to the party’s decision to withdraw from the PN government," he said.
"They will not hesitate to resign as ministers, deputy ministers and GLC chairmen in order to adhere to the decision made by the party," he added.
Speaking at a press conference later, Ahmad Zahid said the unanimous motion to withdraw support would be brought to the party's supreme council.
"UMNO is not at a crossroad. The decision made at today's general assembly was clear," he said, stating that the party's general assembly was the highest body and had made a major policy decision.
In reply to a question on the exact timeline for withdrawing support, including a deadline for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to indicate a general election, Ahmad Zahid said these details would be discussed at the supreme council meeting.
UMNO is a key ally in the ruling PN government but it had earlier vowed to sever ties with Mr Muhyiddin's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and end their cooperation in the next general election.
Ahmad Zahid had said on Sunday morning that Barisan Nasional (a coalition of which UMNO is the backbone member) had decided to face the polls alone.
Meanwhile, UMNO deputy president Mohamad Hasan, in his closing remarks, said the party must be prepared to leave the government in August. Malaysia's state of emergency, declared to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, is slated to end on Aug 1.
"Stop playing silat pulut (a showy silat performance at traditional Malay weddings)."
"If we have to depend on the goodwill of others, we cannot build up our own strengths," he said, in reference to UMNO's second fiddle status in the current PN, which has been mainly controlled by Mr Muhyiddin's Bersatu since the fall of the Pakatan Harapan government back in February 2020.