Umno is facing its own emergency with attempts to overthrow the president
An Umno division in Pahang has called for Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to quit as president, in a sign that a youth rebellion within the party is gaining support from senior leaders.
“For the sake of the Malays, Umno, and the loyalty and hard work of 3.6 million members, Zahid Hamidi should give up his post as the president of Umno,” said Paya Besar Umno chief Ahmad Tajuddin Sulaiman in a statement today.
Tajuddin said the actions of top leaders as well as a section of MPs from the party showed that Umno has no direction, and lacks confidence from its Malay vote bank for future general elections.
He added that Zahid, who is facing multiple criminal charges involving money laundering, breach of trust and corruption, is a liability to the party.
“The revival of Umno is directly burdened by the charges against its top leadership,” said Tajuddin.
Zahid is already facing anger from several state and division Umno Youth leaders who urged him to make way in the wake of revelations that he had backed PKR president Anwar Ibrahim to topple the Perikatan Nasional government which Umno supported following the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan administration last year.
In 2018, Zahid won the Umno presidency despite the dozens of charges slapped against him. In late December, he went on leave following pressure from Umno Youth, but returned to the post six months later saying he was the rightful president of the party.
In the past week, Pontian Umno Youth chief Helmi Buang and his Seremban counterpart Zool Amali Hussin openly called for Zahid’s removal, while the party’s Federal Territories Youth chief Mohamed Nizham Abdullah Hamidi called for a shake-up at the top.
The calls were seen as a sign of growing disenchantment with Zahid’s move to support Anwar’s bid to topple the government.
Meanwhile, Hisommudin Bakar, who heads public opinion pollster Ilham Centre, said Zahid was now on defensive footing and unable to adequately address the issues raised.
The absence of a set of clear directions for Umno will mean more pressure on its president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to quit, an analyst warns in the wake of an internal rebellion led by youth leaders calling for his removal.
“If this situation continues, it is not impossible that the movement to overthrow him will succeed as he has failed to refute those who now openly oppose him,” Hisommudin told MalaysiaNow.
He said Zahid has to answer critics who believe that Umno cannot face an election without the support of PAS and Bersatu.
“This group also believes Umno needs to accept that the era of leadership under Zahid and Najib Razak is not enough to restore the confidence of the people, to return Umno to power as the ruling party.
“For them, Umno needs to acknowledge this shortcoming. It is no longer the dominant force that made it the largest ruling party. All that disappeared in the storm of the 2018 election,” he said.
Zahid and Najib lead a group of Umno leaders who say the party has been forced to play second fiddle to Bersatu in the Perikatan Nasional government.
Zahid and his predecessor Najib Razak have been at the forefront of calls for Umno to revoke the party’s support for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, accusing the Bersatu chief of sidelining Umno in key government posts.
In October, MalaysiaNow revealed the contents of a letter to the palace jointly written by Zahid and Najib, expressing support for Anwar’s bid to become prime minister through the defection of MPs.