Expressing shock over a leaked phone conversation between the presidents of Umno and PKR, former minister Mohamed Nazri Aziz says it is time that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi steps aside, accusing his party boss of dragging the party into his own problems.
Nazri said while he agreed that the audio recording should be investigated, it should not be seen as an attack on Umno.
“If it’s true, I am shocked because he (Zahid) is undermining the Umno general assembly and also the Supreme Council.
“It should be thoroughly investigated. But unlike Zahid’s statement that it is an attempt to damage Umno, I am of the view that it has nothing to do with the party,” the Padang Rengas MP told MalaysiaNow.
In the four-minute clip revealed by MalaysiaNow yesterday, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim is heard congratulating and giving instructions to Zahid in the aftermath of the Umno general assembly.
Zahid in return thanked Anwar for his moral support.
MalaysiaNow has been able to verify that the clip is authentic, and that the voices are those of Anwar and Zahid.
But both leaders have denied speaking to each other, saying they will send their representatives to lodge police reports.
Nazri said it is time for Zahid to step down, adding that those facing charges are not qualified to become prime ministerial candidates for Barisan Nasional (BN) at the next general election.
Nazri, who has revoked his support for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin despite his party being part of the Cabinet, said Zahid should not head Umno until he clears his name.
“He must step down because we want to face an election, and if he is still the leader, we are indirectly offering him as our prime ministerial candidate,” the former tourism minister said.
Zahid, among several former government leaders during the BN administration who are facing corruption charges, has been slapped with 47 counts of misappropriating funds, receiving kickbacks and laundering money related to his charity outfit Yayasan Akalbudi.
Former prime minister Najib Razak, meanwhile, is facing multiple corruption charges related to the 1MDB scandal, seven of which he has already been convicted of and is currently appealing.
Nazri stressed that those facing charges should not be nominated to lead the government.
“Those with cases cannot be nominated as prime minister,” he said, adding that Zahid is facing “lots of issues”.
Nazri also said Zahid had dragged Umno into his personal problems.
“He has no integrity. When he is charged, he says it’s due to people wanting to tarnish Umno when the fact is he is facing justice.
“Why keep blaming the party?” he asked. “That’s why he must resign, because he is linked to the party.”
Nazri also backed growing calls from Umno leaders for party polls to be held before the next general election.
He said party elections would be the best opportunity for Umno to redeem its reputation.
The Umno Supreme Council previously proposed that the party delay elections in order to focus on the impending general election.
But Umno leaders such as Annuar Musa, Khairy Jamaluddin and Reezal Merican Naina Merican have questioned the move.
Khairy recently said a similar decision during the Najib administration had not benefited Umno in the 2018 polls, when it lost federal power.
Nazri said there is no excuse to delay party polls, adding that Umno would suffer with Zahid at the top.
“So if we are indeed democractic, don’t delay. Let the delegates decide who we want in June. That is only right, democracy cannot be delayed.”