An Umno leader has claimed that Dr Mahathir Mohamad had given party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi an ultimatum to dissolve Umno, or risk being slapped with corruption charges.
“Mahathir requested that Zahid bury Umno and join Bersatu. This was admitted by Mahathir himself,” Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said during an online talk show hosted by Malay-language tabloid Sinar Harian last night.
He said Zahid had refused to dissolve the party, and 10 days later was charged in court.
“Those who are interested in studying history should do so with an open mind,” he added.
On April 1, Zahid claimed that he had been told to dissolve Umno.
“My decision not to dissolve Umno has left me facing a very difficult path,” he said in the aftermath of the recent Umno general assembly.
Zahid was first charged on Oct 19, 2018 with more than 40 counts including allegations that he misappropriated funds from his charitable foundation, received kickbacks in exchange for government contracts, and laundered money by buying property.
He faces a maximum jail time of 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification.
Ahmad Maslan, who alongside other former government leaders also faces corruption charges, said the legal action against them was a form of political prosecution.
The Pontian MP and former deputy finance minister under the Najib administration was among 80 individuals and entities named by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission early last year as recipients of funds misappropriated from 1MDB.
He said the authorities had acted unjustly by asking some of the recipients to pay compounds 50 times more than the amount they received.
“This is the most unjust prosecution in the world,” he said.