As Pakatan Harapan was still reeling from its routing in the Tanjung Piai by-election, news surfaced of a meeting between PKR deputy president Azmin Ali and Umno lawmakers which fueled the political rumour mills.
Commenting on this, Bersatu strategist Rais Husin said such meetings could further erode public confidence in the 18-month-old government.
Therefore, he argued that it is vital for the people to know what was discussed during the meeting at Azmin’s residence in Putrajaya last night.
“So that the people will know the focus remains on rebuilding the nation with people-centric initiatives that will benefit the people and the nation.
“This should kill unnecessary speculations that will do more harm than good,” he told Malaysiakini.
Rais claimed not to know of additional details pertaining to the meeting apart from what has been reported in the media.
“I don’t know the details of the discussions at the ‘closed-door’ meeting but it will be ‘nice’ to know as it does give rise to undesirable speculations,” he added.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is also Bersatu chairperson, claimed to be in the dark about the meeting as well.
However, Azmin, who is also the economic affairs minister, downplayed the issue.
“That was a normal meeting. Nothing extraordinary […] I take an open approach, whoever wants to meet me, I meet with them. I meet with the people, the business community, MPs whether from PH (Harapan) or not from PH,” he said.
Whereas, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has demanded an explanation from Azmin.
The meeting reignited speculation about political realignments, especially since former Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein was among those present.
In October, the Pakatan Harapan secretariat had accused Hishammuddin of plotting to form a new government without DAP and Amanah.
On the same day, Anwar, speaking in the Dewan Rakyat, claimed that the threat of persecution was used to coerce MPs into supporting this plan and urged BN lawmakers not to succumb.
“This is the problem of wanting to follow the strategy by Sembrong (Hishammuddin’s parliamentary constituency) and others. All this is nonsense.
“All this is sometimes for personal survival […] to close MACC cases. We don’t want that. Politics should not be about threats, it should be about principles.
“Be it threats of prosecution or imprisonment, one’s principle must not be sacrificed,” he said.
Hishammuddin has denied the allegation or that he is attempting to stop Anwar from succeeding Mahathir. – MKINI
Najib agrees Umno reps who met Azmin, including cousin, should face disciplinary squad
“On what happened last night, it should be investigated by the disciplinary committee. As announced by the party president, any decision made by the party will be done for the sake of the party’s solidarity and party discipline.
“And any action that we do must be party-based. This is a question of the party. We must have the spirit of the party,” Najib told reporters in Parliament after his trial for allegedly tampering with the 2016 Auditor-General’s Report on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad financial scandal was adjourned.
The Pekan MP said any official meeting should be conducted at the office, instead of Azmin’s residence in the middle of the night.
He said such late night meetings are subject to many interpretations.
He added that any cross-party talks with the government should be handled by the party’s parliamentary whip or the Opposition leader.
Najib’s cousin and Sembrong MP Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein confirmed he was part of a group of Umno men who met with PKR’s Azmin at the latter’s home in Putrajaya late last night after being outed by Umno supreme council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam who posted about the meeting early this morning.
Hishammuddin, a former Umno vice-president, denied he organised or led the delegation as alleged, and said he is open to any investigation as he has nothing to hide.
Umno disciplinary chairman Tan Sri Apandi Ali confirmed in a statement this morning that the board received several complaints and is investigating the matter.
He promised to take the necessary action without “fear or favour” if any of the 22 were found in breach of the Umno constitution.
It was reported that around 22 MPs from both sides of the political divide were seen to have gathered at the official residence of the economic affairs minister last night.
Apart from Hishammuddin, those who attended the meeting included Barisan Nasional’s Cameron Highlands MP Ramli Mohd Noor, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin and Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar from PKR. – MALAY MAIL
MKINI / MALAY MAIL