‘Traitors’ should be removed, says UMNO youth chief at general assembly
Amid calls for UMNO’s top posts to be contested within the next few months, party leaders have called on members to close ranks.
KUALA LUMPUR: The “traitors” among the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) who have become enemies from within the party should be booted, its youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said on Thursday (Jan 12).
In his policy speech on the second day of UMNO’s 2022 general assembly, Dr Asyraf said that these detractors would end up destroying the party as they only prioritise on their individual needs.
"UMNO Youth demands that the remaining party traitors who have been enemies from within to be removed immediately before they become cancers that damage the party,” he said.
At a special briefing before the start of the general assembly on Wednesday night, UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi identified 10 Barisan Nasional (BN) Members of Parliament who had signed statutory declarations in support of Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman Muhyiddin Yassin.
Free Malaysia Today reported that among them were former senior minister Hishammuddin Hussein as well as Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president Wee Ka Siong. MCA is a component party of BN.
Dr Asyraf said that BN’s loss in the 15th General Election (GE15) last year was due to the disunity within the coalition.
“The reality is that in 2018, we lost due to false accusations (against the party’s leaders). In 2022, we lost because we were divided,” he said, adding that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”.
AHMAD ZAHID SAYS “FORGIVEN” 10 MPs WHO SUPPORTED RIVAL
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the general assembly at the World Trade Centre on Thursday, Ahmad Zahid said that he has since “forgiven” the 10 MPs who had supported Mr Muhyiddin following GE15.
However, he stressed that he will continue to watch over them - together with the party’s disciplinary committee - for any moves that might potentially affect the unity government under Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
“I am confident that (the 10 MPs) are with UMNO and BN to support the current unity government. I am also confident that the ‘mistake’ that had happened was because the situation back then was uncertain,” said Ahmad Zahid.
He added that the disclosure of the 10 names at the closed-door briefing was to explain to UMNO delegates on how the unity government came to be formed.
“I shared the information because they need to know what happened that resulted in the formation of the unity government. And we also need to move forward. So, the best course of action was to make the incident as a lesson,” said the deputy prime minister.
TOP 2 POSTS SHOULD NOT BE CONTESTED
Amid calls from certain quarters who want to see the top two positions - party president and deputy president - opened for contest at the upcoming party polls, UMNO women’s wing chief Noraini Ahmad has called for the posts to remain uncontested.
This, she said, will give the party leaders “space and support to strengthen the party for the sake of UMNO’s survival and for the country.”
In her policy speech, Dr Noraini said that UMNO members must support the existing leadership to strengthen the party and regain the confidence of voters following its dismal GE15 performance.
“Externally, we lost due to the perceptions played up … internally, we lost because some of us would not stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”
At the start of the four-day convention on Wednesday, UMNO deputy president Mohamad Hasan said a contest for the top positions may cause internal divisions.
"It is best that the party president post and other positions are not contested because if we do go ahead it may to some extent cause a rift within the party,” the defence minister was quoted as saying by Bernama.
Meanwhile, former UMNO youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin - who is among those who have been vocal in calling for the top two posts to be contested - said that the party should “make a room” for it.
In an Instagram Story on Thursday, Mr Khairy said: “Stop this madness. I think the president (Ahmad Zahid) is a fighter who does not fear taking on challengers.
"Make room for contests. Don’t kill off democracy in UMNO.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the former Malaysia health minister said he is considering running for the post of president of the UMNO, calling the next UMNO election as the “most important” in the party’s history.
Mr Khairy said that it would determine if the party could reform and remain relevant, or “rest in peace”.
“I think this time around, the stakes are much, much higher. Because whoever wins (the UMNO presidency) will lead the party into the next election,” he said.
Last week, UMNO president Ahmad Zahid said that he is confident in retaining the party presidency if challenged during the next party election.
“I am not being arrogant but it was proven in 2018 that even the combined votes of the other two contenders were less than mine,” said Ahmad Zahid.
In the 2018 UMNO election, Ahmad Zahid was elected as president after defeating his two challengers - Mr Khairy and Mr Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. He obtained 93 votes compared with Mr Khairy’s 51 votes and Tengku Razaleigh’s 23 votes.
UMNO leadership polls are expected to be held before May 19, though the exact date has yet to be announced. This follows the party’s request to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) last year to hold the polls only after the GE15.
BN finished a distant third with a mere 30 seats, down from the 79 it won in the 2018 general election. Pakatan Harapan won 81 seats while PN came second with 73 seats.
This led to calls for Ahmad Zahid to step down as UMNO president and BN chairman following the GE15 poor showing.
Separately, on the party’s poor showing in the recent general election, UMNO young women's wing chief Zahida Zarik Khan reminded party members to support and defend their leaders.
Mdm Zarida noted that UMNO should learn from the Opposition who defend their leaders despite being attacked by their rivals.
“Look among them how many times they lost the election but they did not demand their president to step down. We should all find a way to support our leaders to become stronger, instead of weakening them,” she said.