PEKAN, Pahang: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak expressed his disappointment on Tuesday (May 8) that several senior UMNO members had gone to the extent of betraying the party at the crucial moment that it was going into a general election.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman said he did not believe that these individuals would be willing to stoop to that level after having derived various benefits from the party.
His comments come after a report in The Star that three UMNO members, and former cabinet members under Dr Mahathir Mohamad's tenure criticised Barisan Nasional.
Two of them were also openly seen attending a Pakatan Harapan rally just last week.
Rafidah Aziz, 74 - once known as the "Iron Lady" - the minister for international trade and industry for 30 years, Rais Yatim, 76, and Daim Zainuddin, 80, both former ministers in Dr Mahathir's cabinet, are said to have changed allegiances and are now intent on bringing down a party they steered for decades.
“It is unfortunate that people who have gained much through UMNO, (in terms of) senior positions, wealth … are willing to backstab UMNO at this time,” he said when addressing about 600 veteran members of BN-friendly NGOs at his Sri Kenangan residence.
UMNO's secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor confirmed on Saturday that Rafidah, Daim, and Rais have been sacked from the party for colluding with the opposition, reported The Star.
"As far as I'm concerned, they are no longer UMNO veterans, and not even members," said Adnan, as quoted by The Star.
"As the party's secretary-general, I will not tolerate such nonsense. I will take action. I don't care who they are."
However, not all are fazed by the sudden betrayal.
“Whatever they are doing now, it's overtaken by events, they belong to yesteryears' generation," said Malaysia's deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid about the UMNO members banding together against the party.
Najib will be defending the Pekan parliamentary seat in the general election on Wednesday and added that he saluted the veterans attending the event because of their loyal support for BN from the time he became the elected representative for Pekan in 1976.