AN UMNO PRESIDENT CANNOT GO ON LEAVE – ESPECIALLY NOW. THERE’S NO SUCH THING: KU LI TELLS ZAHID TO RETURN TO LEAD UMNO – OR GIVE UP POST TO SOMEONE WHO CAN

AHMAD Zahid Hamidi should get back to work as there’s no such thing as being on leave when you’re the Umno president, said party veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

“I told Zahid recently that he can’t go on leave as there’s no such thing. He’s the president and he’s responsible for what happens to the party.

“We feel that they need to keep track of what’s happening in the party or we will lose a sense of direction in the party,” said the 82-year-old Gua Musang MP.

And although Tengku Razaleigh felt that the Zahid’s problems could affect Umno’s credibility, it should be left to him to decide whether to stay or go.

“The person should be more responsible and say that ‘I shouldn’t get involved and drag the party into the mud’.

“We don’t have to put it in the constitution that the person facing jail time should withdraw from the party.”  

The 12-term MP said the party shouldn’t have to amend the constitution to force elected leaders to resign from their posts.

“What happened previously with Muhammad Muhammad Taib or Rahim Thamby Chik was that the leadership felt that they should attend to their personal problems so that it is not linked to the party.

“As such, they were asked to go on leave from their duties as menteri besar or chief minister but not from the party,” he said.

Zahid handed over his responsibilities to deputy president Mohamad Hasan in December after facing internal pressure from some to quit following his litany of criminal charges. He has not said how long he will be away.

He took over as party president soon after the general election last May.

Below are excerpts from the interview:

Q: What do you think of talk that the party constitution should be amended to have elected leaders step down once they are charged with criminal offences?

TR: What happened previously with Muhammad Muhammad Taib or Rahim Thamby Chik, the leadership felt that they should attend to their personal problems so that it is not linked to the party.

As such, they were asked to go on leave from their duties as menteri besar or chief minister but not from the party.

I told Zahid recently that he can’t go on leave as there’s no such thing. He’s president and he’s responsible for what happens to the party.

We feel that they need to keep track of what’s happening in the party or we will lose a sense of direction in the party.

Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah says Umno need not change its constitution to accommodate those facing criminal charges as the individuals should have the conscience not to drag the party into the mud. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, June 6, 2019.
Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah says Umno need not change its constitution to accommodate those facing criminal charges as the individuals should have the conscience not to drag the party into the mud. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, June 6, 2019.

Q: Some say that Zahid should come back…

TR: There are also those who say he should retire. Coming back to amend the constitution to stop some people in the party, I don’t agree with that.

If you are rogue, but you are elected then you are a rogue president.

But he has his rights as he’s not disqualified from being an elected leader although people must decide this for themselves. If we are culturally developed, we should say we don’t want his kind of leaders. It doesn’t have to be in the constitution.

Q: The thinking is that Zahid is bogged down by his legal problems.

TR: That should be the responsibility of the person concerned where his own problems shouldn’t be the party’s problems.

The person should be more responsible and say that “I shouldn’t get involved and drag the party into the mud”.

We don’t have to put it in the constitution that the person facing jail time should withdraw from the party.

He may not even be convicted.

If he is eligible to stand then he should offer himself. But at the same time, the person should think what he could do to the party because of his problems.

Q: Are Zahid and Najib (Razak)’s legal issues a problem for Umno?

TR: It must be a problem as it’s a game of perception. Politics is a game of perception. It’s unfortunate for Najib and Zahid. But they may be guilty, I don’t know. I take the other dictum, that a person is not guilty until convicted in a court of law.

THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

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