Perlis Umno veteran Shahidan Kassim has remained defiant following the recent move by the party president to replace him as state chief, vowing to make good on his threat to expose efforts by the top leader to mobilise support for PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.
Hours after news of his removal as Perlis Umno chief, Shahidan had told the media that he would make public explosive details on Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He had said he preferred to keep the secrets to himself, but in an interview with MalaysiaNow, he hinted at going public.
“In fact, I am aware of many things but I have kept them to myself in the name of party harmony,” Shahidan said.
Last year, Zahid and former prime minister Najib Razak, who have emerged as the most vocal critics of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, wrote a joint letter to the palace expressing support for Anwar in his bid for the top post.
They are also believed to have engineered calls in the recent Umno general assembly to cut ties with Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional (PN), although this did not result in ministers from Umno resigning from the federal Cabinet.
Shahidan, who is among Umno leaders opposed to cutting ties with Bersatu, said he would not wait long to expose dealings by the Umno president.
For instance, he said Zahid and his allies had been on a “signature drive” to gather support for Anwar from among Umno MPs.
“There is proof that he had been approaching people, asking them to sign this and that,” he told MalaysiaNow recently.
A senior Wanita Umno leader confirmed Shahidan’s claim to MalaysiaNow.
Wanita Umno exco member Shamsiah M Yassin said Zahid had approached the wing, asking them to support Anwar as prime minister.
“He (Zahid) wanted us to support Anwar. We said ‘No way’,” Shamsiah told MalaysiaNow, adding that Wanita Umno was not firmly behind Zahid.
For his refusal to cut ties with PN, Shahidan was heckled by Umno delegates at the general assembly last month during a speech which, unlike those of other state chiefs, was not streamed live to the public.
The incident was mentioned in an audio recording of a telephone conversation between Zahid and Anwar, in which both leaders appeared happy with the outcome of the assembly.
Shahidan’s stand is that Umno should cooperate with Bersatu as long as Parliament has not been dissolved, in keeping with a decision by the party Supreme Council earlier this year.
But he said he was clear about supporting Zahid despite the president’s call to end ties with the PN coalition.
“At the general assembly, no state expressed support for the president. Only I expressed support for Zahid,” he said.
“I said that we should support PN until the general election, but they booed me. It shows they had no clue, they only knew how to boo.”
Shahidan’s removal has been seen as part of efforts by Zahid to cleanse Umno of his critics.
In January, Annuar Musa was removed as Barisan Nasional secretary-general for criticising Zahid, while Putrajaya Umno deputy chairman Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz was slapped with a six-year suspension.
Shamsiah said Zahid had no winning formula for Umno at the next general election.
She said she had met with Zahid before the recent general assembly and questioned him for making enemies.
“(I asked him) What’s wrong with you? Why pick fights with everyone? What do I tell the members?” Shamsiah said.
“He could not answer. He wants to win the general election but there is so much work not completed.”