Umno grassroots have stepped up the pressure against Ahmad Zahid Hamidi after he turned a deaf ear to persistent calls over the last two weeks for his resignation as president and for him to face the disciplinary board over a series of decisions seen as undermining the Malay party.
They are now urging Zahid to show his commitment to “No Anwar No DAP”, an unwritten rule in Umno rejecting cooperation with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and DAP.
Zahid, who in October last year wrote a letter to the palace backing Anwar’s bid to topple the Perikatan Nasional government that Umno is a part of, has remained largely silent over a series of statements by Youth and division leaders calling for his removal.
Now, some have challenged him to make a statutory declaration that he will stick to the unwritten rule.
And none other than a senior Umno leader from the administrative capital of Putrajaya is making the call.
Putrajaya Umno’s deputy chairman Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz said Zahid should not turn his back on decisions by the Supreme Council.
“My request is simple. The president should issue an SD and pledge that he will not work with Anwar and DAP, and cease all efforts for a new political alignment involving them,” Faisal told MalaysiaNow.
Like other Umno leaders who have criticised Zahid, Faisal too made reference to Zahid’s ally, Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan, who urged MPs from the party to write to the palace requesting the Agong to call for Parliament to convene during the emergency.
“The president should issue an SD and pledge that he will not work with Anwar and DAP.”
The call is in line with that of Anwar, who yesterday said he would file an affidavit in support of the move to have Dewan Rakyat sittings.
But Faisal said it is not consistent with the official party stand, adding that top party leaders have not been forthcoming with explanations.
“From what I am told, the move (by Ahmad Maslan) did not go through the Supreme Council or the management or political bureau,” he added.
Zahid is already facing anger from several state and division Umno Youth leaders who urged him to step down, some three months after his secret backing for Anwar was revealed by MalaysiaNow in October last year.
“When the president himself signs a letter in support of Anwar, the grassroots deserve to know the truth.”
They include Pontian Umno Youth chief Helmi Buang, his Seremban couterpart Zool Amali Hussin, and Federal Territories Youth chief Mohamed Nizham Abdullah Hamidi.
They were joined by the Paya Besar Umno division in Pahang, whose chief Ahmad Tajuddin Sulaiman described Zahid and his multiple corruption charges as a burden to the party.
On Sunday, MalaysiaNow quoted Setiawangsa Umno’s deputy chairman Irwan Rizal Ali Napiah as saying that Zahid should have been hauled up to the disciplinary board over his letter to the palace.
“I will write to the secretary-general to form a special committee to investigate the validity of the letter,” Irwan had said.
Faisal agreed with the call.
“When the president himself signs a letter in support of Anwar, the grassroots deserve to know the truth,” he said.
Zahid’s letter, co-signed by former president Najib Razak, was sent without the knowledge of key party leaders, resulting in Umno ministers expressing shock that the party president was backing an opposition leader.
Faisal said Zahid should come clean or lodge a police report.
Puteri Umno exco member Siti Sokleha Nordin said the wing would make an official request to the Supreme Council, asking it to look into launching a probe into Zahid’s letter to the palace.
Irwan meanwhile said he had already written to Ahmad Maslan, who told him that “he would bring it up”.
“That’s all he said,” he told MalaysiaNow.
A source however told MalaysiaNow that any attempt to punish Zahid would be difficult, as the disciplinary board is dominated by the president’s “strong supporters”.