Thursday, April 22, 2021

In meeting with PM, Umno ministers stunned by party boss’ Bersatu-bashing

They point to the 'court cluster' in their explanation of the weekend outbursts at the Umno general assembly.

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Cabinet members from Umno today expressed shock at the volleys of bashing by their party president against the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, said a source citing a brief meeting between them and Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin this afternoon.

MalaysiaNow has learnt that at the meeting in Putrajaya attended by about a dozen ministers and deputy ministers, many of them admitted to not having any “logical explanation” for the series of speeches attacking Bersatu and PN.

“They said they themselves could not understand why the target of the speeches at the Umno general assembly was the same party which brought them out of the opposition to give them positions of power,” a source told MalaysiaNow, some four hours after the meeting concluded without any clear outcome.

The Umno general assembly over the weekend saw party leaders and delegates pouring scorn on Bersatu and PN, in a show of support for party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who sought endorsement for his plan to cut Umno’s ties with PN.

Top leaders also called for Umno to be made dominant again, saying the party would not accept anything less if it was part of any government.

There were speculative claims earlier about today’s meeting, saying the Umno ministers and deputy ministers had offered Muhyiddin their immediate resignations from the Cabinet.

But the source denied that this had been part of the discussion.

“The only thing they offered the prime minister was what they thought was the most probable reason behind the attacks. They pointed to a scheme by the court cluster group in the Umno leadership,” it added.

The “court cluster” refers to a group of former government leaders from Umno who are facing multiple charges of corruption, money laundering and criminal breach of trust.

Zahid and former prime minister Najib Razak, who between them face more than 80 such charges, have been at the forefront of a campaign against Muhyiddin, accusing the former Umno deputy president of sidelining Umno for key government posts.

Their criticism gained momentum after Najib was convicted of seven counts of corruption in July last year, five months after he and Umno MPs backed Muhyiddin as prime minister.

In October, the pair wrote to the palace to state their support for PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim in the latter’s bid to engineer defections to topple Muhyiddin.

Anwar has since admitted to having talks with Umno leaders to form an alliance.

A source said that during an informal talk after the meeting, a comparison was made between Zahid’s attack on ministers from his own party and Anwar’s critisim of ministers from PKR when the latter was part of the Pakatan Harapan government led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“It was thought that Zahid was taking a page from Anwar’s playbook,” the source said.

Just two weeks ago, Barisan Nasional was forced to revoke a statement issued by Zahid after finding that it was almost identical to a separate statement issued by Anwar.

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