A split in Umno over the issue of supporting the Perikatan Nasional government has come to the extent that moves are being made to oust party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, according to inside sources.
In what can be said as among the latest moves in Umno’s internal war, a propaganda drive was recently launched against Zahid in the form of a booklet attacking his personality.
The booklet, titled 30 Dalil Mengapa Ahmad Zahid Perlu Letak Jawatan Sebagai Presiden Umno (30 reasons why Ahmad Zahid should resign as Umno president) is believed to have been passed to party members in both physical and digital forms starting last month.
Among the issues highlighted in the book are Zahid’s court cases, poor record of Umno in by-elections since the Bagan Datuk MP took over as its president, the exodus of Umno MPs to Bersatu and allegations that Zahid tried to make a pact with Umno’s arch-enemy, DAP. Another booklet to counter the dalil was later published in defence of Zahid.
One source pointed to what they have branded as “Kluster Menteri”, allegedly an informal group consisting of Umno MPs who are members of the Muhyiddin cabinet.
Currently, there are nine Umno MPs in the cabinet, including four who are elected members of the Umno supreme council.
The source said that a number of the ministers are part of the so-called Kluster Menteri, alleging that they are in favour of Umno continuing its cooperation with Bersatu to retain their positions in the government, as opposed to the grassroots sentiment that it is only for this election term.
For the record, recent divisional-level annual meetings saw more than 100 Umno divisions reject any form of cooperation with Bersatu in the next general election.
“This Kluster Menteri does not want to follow the party’s decision. They have money and power (sic),” the source claimed.
“So what they do now is… they fund a move to oust the president,” he added.
It was also claimed that the anti-Zahid group is assisted by two key members of another political party, who want Umno to stick with Bersatu.
“We also believe that they (the members of Kluster Menteri) had supplied data of Umno members to disseminate the booklet (30 Dalil). Because the members who received it are those on the current membership list.”
Another party source, when contacted, also acknowledged the existence of the booklet against Zahid. He, however, declined to speculate who might be behind it.
Malaysiakini contacted several of the ministers alleged to be part of the anti-Zahid group for comments. However, none of them had responded at the time of writing.
Two of the ministers’ aides brushed off the claim and they declined to be quoted, pending approval from their superiors. Malaysiakini is withholding the names of the ministers allegedly part of the group pending their responses.
Nothing ‘concrete’ from meetings
The issue of cooperation with Bersatu was core to last weekend’s Umno supreme council meeting held at Umno’s training facility in Janda Baik, Pahang.
However, several council members who spoke to Malaysiakini recently gave varying accounts of what had happened at the meeting.
These include conflicting claims on whether a decision had been reached on the matter. Zahid’s camp claimed that the majority of Umno council members were supportive of leaving Bersatu in the next election, while the other camp claimed otherwise.
Another source claimed that there was nothing concrete that came from the meeting.
“This was just like all the previous supreme council meetings. Everybody spoke, gave their opinions, had their own formulas on what might work for Umno the way forward, but in the end, it is just like that,” he said.
The source indicated that a concrete decision on whether Umno would stay in support of PN or otherwise might only arrive during the party’s annual general assembly, which was supposed to take place in late January but was postponed due to the emergency proclamation and the second movement control order.
Umno has yet to come up with another date for its general assembly.