AHMAD Zahid Hamidi’s sudden return from hiatus after six months was prompted by a need to safeguard his party position and stop speculation of a changing of guard in Umno, sources said.
They told The Malaysian Insight that Zahid’s handing over of his duties to his deputy Mohamad Hassan last year caused much talk and supposition, including that of a new leadership emerging in the next internal elections, due in 2021.
There are also rumours of a faction working to oust the president by amending the party constitution.
“At times like this, there should not be such talk. Leaders should focus on strengthening the party,” a party insider said.
“Zahid cut short his leave to return before the party fell into chaos.”
A group of Umno leaders known as Team Tok Mat are said to be waiting in the shadows to seize power.
As its name indicates, the group is led by Zahid’s deputy Mohamad. The members are party vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, Johari Abdul Ghani and Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
Mohamad, who proposed to amend the party constitution, has been accused of plotting to remove his boss by such a move – a charge he has denied.
It is said the plan is to remove not only Zahid but also former Umno president Najib Razak, who like the current president, is tainted by corruption and money-laundering charges.
A motion to amend the Umno constitution is expected to be tabled in the extraordinary general meeting in November.
The amendment is not to topple anyone, Mohamad said, but to ease the admission process to swell the party ranks
Alleged co-conspirator Khaled also said there are no such amendments in the offing.
Meanwhile, another source said Zahid’s immediate appointment of five new Supreme Council members and two new state liaison committee chairmen upon his return was not fuelled by a secret agenda.
“The appointments were delayed because only the president could make the selections. Mohamad was merely the acting president,” the source said.
Last week, Zahid appointed division heads Mohd Puad Zarkashi (Batu Pahat), Johan Abd Aziz (Hulu Langat), Shaik Hussein Mydin (Bagan) and Yaakub Khan (Sepanggar), and deputy division head of Seputeh Mohd Razlan Muhammad Rafii to the Supreme Council.
Three days later, Shahidan Kassim and Mat Nadzari Ahmad Dahlan were named as state liaison chairmen for Perlis and Selangor, respectively.
The source said Zahid did not sit idle while on leave. Instead, he visited mosques, orphanages, religious schools and old folk’s homes to keep his finger on the pulse.
“He visited these places to get first-hand information on current issues and how to improve Umno.”
We don’t want Zahid anyway, says Bersatu chairman
PRIME Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today made fun of Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s refusal to allow Umno to work with Bersatu, saying the party president was not wanted anyway.
“We will reject his (Zahid) application if he wants to join us,” said Dr Mahathir, after chairing the Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting today.
He also said the Umno members did not appear to share their president’s view.
“The president disapproves but the members are coming to join us,” Dr Mahathir said.
Earlier today, Zahid said that although Umno was open to offers, it would not accept Dr Mahathir’s invitation to join the ruling party.
The Umno president said this was because the Malay party would never join a government that was under the control of DAP
“It’s unacceptable as DAP controls the government now. More so, when it wants to realise its Malaysian Malaysia agenda,” Zahid told reporters in Parliament.
“We cannot accept offers from any party that is still working with DAP. This is Umno and Barisan Nasional’s official position.”
Umno, the biggest opposition party, has focused much of its ire on DAP, which it blames for its defeat in the general election last year.
Zahid was commenting on Dr Mahathir’s invitation to Malay parties, including Umno, to join Bersatu for the sake of Malay unity.
“If we are split, we become weak, united we stand, divided we fall (bercerai roboh, bersatu teguh). (But) we find that there are people forming new parties, (now) we have become six, soon there will be 10, (then) 100,” Dr Mahathir had said in Johor last week.
“(If) There are 30 people in one party, How to win (the election)?”
Zahid had immediately dismissed the invitation, saying Bersatu and Amanah should instead disband for the sake of Malay unity.
Zahid had declared that Umno would not cooperate with those with close ties to a party that neglected the Malays and Islam, in reference to DAP.