Monday, March 1, 2021

Split in Umno after Zahid backs Anwar

Several MPs who support Anwar Ibrahim, including the party president, are facing corruption charges.

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Umno is headed for a split between two camps for and against PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim’s latest move to topple Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration, MalaysiaNow has learnt.

This follows remarks by Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi seen as supportive of Anwar, who yesterday declared he had gathered a “formidable” majority to form the federal government.

Two factions are now at loggerheads: one led by Zahid and the other by Mohamad Hasan, the Umno deputy president who has consistently spoken out against any move by the party to return to power outside the ballot box.

An Umno insider also told MalaysiaNow that Zahid’s statement yesterday, in which he said it was up to Umno MPs to decide whether to support Anwar, was made without consultation with the party’s Supreme Council.

“That is the reason his statement was not released using the official Umno letterhead,” it said.

Umno grassroots are generally unsettled by Zahid’s stand, and have rallied behind his deputy.

Zahid, who was Anwar’s closest ally when the duo were leading Umno in the late 1990s, has been slapped with 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering.

It was said that Zahid had hoped to have the charges against him dropped when he allied himself with Muhyiddin, who broke away from Pakatan Harapan (PH) in February.

“But that is not likely to happen, as seen in the case involving Najib, who was found guilty despite throwing support behind Perikatan Nasional (PN),” said the same Umno insider, referring to former prime minister Najib Razak’s conviction in July of seven charges related to RM42 million of SRC International funds in his personal bank account.

“A deal with Anwar, his former mentor, will probably be the only way out for Zahid,” the source added.

It is learnt that several other Umno MPs who are keen on joining Anwar, including Zahid and Najib, are facing multiple corruption charges as well as investigations.

MalaysiaNow has not been able to independently verify the claim, but requests for comments from the MPs concerned were denied.

Mohamad, better known as Tok Mat, has meanwhile publicly stated that Umno is still with PN, despite his own reservations about his party returning to power without going for elections.

Tok Mat reportedly said that any decision to change Umno’s alliance could only be decided by the party.

A former senior editor of Umno mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia, Zaini Hassan, confirmed to MalaysiaNow the split in the party caused by Zahid’s statement.

“The anger among Umno members (over switching to Anwar’s side) cannot be contained, that’s all I can tell you,” he said.

Writing at length about the issue on Bebas News, a news website he now leads, Zaini said “a revolution in Umno is inevitable”.

He also said Zahid’s support for Anwar was strange, as it was impossible for Anwar to form a strong bloc without support from DAP and Sarawak MPs.

“Would DAP be prepared to work with Zahid and Najib?” he wrote.

Umno has in the past rejected any cooperation with DAP, making it a precondition for working with Muhyiddin.

PH, comprising PKR, DAP and Amanah, has at least 91 MPs, and Anwar will need at least 20 more to show that he has majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.

Umno currently has 39 seats.

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