Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan has mounted a strong defence of his party boss Ahmad Zahid Hamidi from recent allegations of collusion with PKR to shape sentiments at the recent Umno general assembly, as well as the flurry of criminal allegations he faces.
Ahmad, who was a deputy minister when Zahid was deputy prime minister in the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government, said the Umno president had been unjustly treated since the first term of Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“Zahid was unfairly treated, not once, but he has twice faced injustice,” Ahmad told MalaysiaNow’s current affairs programme Talk, Now.
“First, if you look at his personal history, he is the only Umno president who was detained under ISA,” he said, referring to Zahid’s arrest in 1998 under the Internal Security Act over his links to Anwar’s reformasi movement.
Ahmad said the 47 charges of money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption that Zahid faces are another example of how he has been victimised.
“Zahid was unfairly treated, not once, but he has twice faced injustice.”
He claimed that Zahid was brought to court because he refused to dissolve Umno and join Bersatu.
“When the request was not met, he was dragged to court over his own foundation.”
Ahmad also said Zahid deserved to be given the post of deputy prime minister “or higher than that”.
In October last year, MalaysiaNow released the contents of a letter jointly signed by Zahid and former prime minister Najib Razak, supporting Anwar Ibrahim’s bid to topple the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.
It was later revealed that Zahid had approached Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in the hope of being acquitted of his criminal charges.
Zahid entered the spotlight again with his recent calls alongside Najib for Umno to cut ties with Bersatu and the PN government.
The suggestion received endorsement from delegates at the Umno general assembly in March, in what was touted as Zahid’s success in silencing dissenting leaders who disagreed with the plan for Umno to go it alone.
However, just days after the general assembly, Zahid was embroiled in controversy following the revelation of a telephone conversation he had with Anwar, where he was heard being congratulated by the PKR leader over the endorsement from Umno delegates.
Ahmad refuses to believe that it was Zahid’s voice in the audio clip, although several politicians including Umno’s Annuar Musa and Bersatu’s Mohamed Azmin Ali identified Zahid and Anwar as the duo in the conversation.
Ahmad said Zahid had been made the victim of voice-cloning technology, adding that such resources were already available two years ago.
“I was heavily condemned, but I knew I was doing the right thing.”
“With technology, they can make it seem like we said it. That was two years ago, digital voice cloning is more sophisticated now,” Ahmad told Talk, Now.
In the interview, Ahmad, who had taken to social media to defend the BN government’s decision to introduce the goods and services tax (GST), also spoke about how he copes with critics on social media, and shared his insight into his political survival over the years.
“I was heavily condemned, but I knew I was doing the right thing.
“At one point, I knew people would eventually appreciate the GST, so I didn’t really mind what they said to me,” he added.