A meeting of Umno division leaders with Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in Kuala Lumpur today saw their president taking pains to convince them to turn their back on the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, as hawks in the party attempt to force snap polls in the hope of returning Umno to dominion in the federal government.
At the meeting attended by a little more than half of the 191 division leaders nationwide, Zahid urged Umno MPs to revoke their support for PN by February so that snap polls could be held as soon as possible.
Zahid repeated a familiar complaint from former president Najib Razak and a group of Umno leaders aligned with him, saying the PN government had sidelined Umno, and that it is not looking after the people’s welfare.
Among others, Zahid said the present government did not review decisions made by the Pakatan Harapan government including on the sale of assets of pilgrims fund Tabung Haji as well as what he termed “selective prosecution” by the previous government.
He also urged all ministers from Umno to resign, and those holding top posts in government-linked companies to give up their positions by next month.
Since August, Zahid, Najib and several MPs from Umno who have been slapped with multiple corruption charges have been ramping up their criticism of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
This followed Najib’s conviction of seven charges related to the 1MDB scandal.
In October, MalaysiaNow revealed a plan by a group of MPs facing hundreds of corruption charges in a bid to force an election, following a failed attempt by PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim to topple Muhyiddin through defections.
Both Zahid and Najib had backed Anwar in his plan.
Experts have warned against holding snap polls during the pandemic season as daily Covid-19 infections pass the 2,000 mark, with more than 500 deaths nationwide, the bulk of which were recorded in the aftermath of the Sabah election in September.
The US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research centre at the University of Washington, has projected a continuous rise in Covid-19 cases in Malaysia until March, with daily infections to hit 5,000 by Feb 25.
Top officials who met in December warned of a shortage of medical frontliners as well as critical hospital equipment including ventilators and beds should the virus continue the spike.
At a meeting by the National Security Council on the pandemic last year, health officials repeatedly appealed against a general election, saying there was no effective way to prevent an explosion of infections nationwide despite the health SOPs.