Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had to be "rescued" by a group of MPs aligned with him at a noisy meeting with the coalition's top leaders last night, MalaysiaNow can reveal based on eyewitness accounts.
At least two MPs who were present at the meeting said that Zahid – already facing a barrage of calls to step down as both Umno president and BN chairman following the coalition's thrashing at the newly concluded polls – had to be whisked out of the conference room at the World Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur as the situation was "getting out of hand".
"We demanded the meeting after we found out that Zahid sent a letter to the palace claiming all of us supported Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister. It was a downright lie," said one of the MPs present, speaking to MalaysiaNow on condition of anonymity.
Zahid had written to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong claiming that he had the final say on who the coalition's MPs would support.
In the letter bearing the BN letterhead, Zahid said he was committing the coalition's 30 MPs in support of Anwar, based on his "mandate" as the BN chairman.
The letter was believed to have been submitted ahead of political party chiefs' audiences with the Agong at Istana Negara yesterday.
Zahid's letter was in conflict with BN's earlier statement that it would remain neutral in the tussle for the top office between Anwar and Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin.
It is understood that some 20 MPs had sided with Muhyiddin through the issuance of statutory declarations, giving him the majority needed to form the government. But following talks with Anwar and Muhyiddin yesterday, the Agong said he would speak individually to all BN MPs today to gauge their stance.
One Umno MP told MalaysiaNow that upon learning that Zahid had unilaterally committed BN's MPs to Anwar, they called for a meeting to demand his resignation.
"It was a very tense situation. When the discussion on removing him started gathering pace, several of Zahid's friends suddenly emerged out of nowhere and whisked him out of the room. He escaped!" he added.
He said due to what took place last night, the BN MPs had sought more time from the palace.
"We wanted to sort out the mess we are in. Right now, Zahid keeps making arbitrary decisions without any consultation. He has even deceived the palace," he added.
Contacted by MalaysiaNow, several BN MPs confirmed that "an incident" had taken place last night.
"Disappointing," read a one-word reply from MIC president SA Vigneswaran.
MCA president Wee Ka Siong meanwhile slammed Zahid for acting without consensus.
"At first, Zahid was in denial (about writing the letter), but he admitted afterwards when evidence was produced.
"Zahid went against the collective decision by the BN Supreme Council yesterday, and did not communicate BN’s resolution correctly to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong," Wee said in a statement.