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Will Umno members sit back and watch party's decline, asks Mahathir

The man who led the Malay party for more than two decades predicts that it will continue declining under Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad has asked whether Umno members will sit by and watch the party being controlled by leaders who are out to protect their own interests, following the move by the Malay party at its recent general assembly to stop any contest for the top two posts.

Mahathir said the party's election performance had consistently declined over the years due to the actions of his successors – Abdullah Badawi, Najib Razak and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi – whom he said were not interested in fighting for "race, country and religion".

"The Umno constitution allows members to change leaders. But Umno members seem willing to keep a leader who is facing charges.

"The current Umno president is facing charges. Will Umno members continue to support the party?" Mahathir, who was the party's longest serving president, asked in a statement shared online.

Zahid is facing a slew of corruption charges in court related to tens of millions of ringgit belonging to charity outfit Yayasan Akalbudi.

The Umno general assembly last weekend passed a motion to stop any contest for the posts of president and deputy president when the party holds is election, due by mid-May. 

Mahathir said the Umno chief appeared ready to abandon the party principles in order to save himself from criminal charges.

He said this included the move by Zahid to work with Anwar Ibrahim and DAP.

"We will see whether Anwar can save Zahid from trial or not. Will Anwar's reform include 'the rule of law'?" he added.

He also said Zahid was afraid that he would be convicted if he were not made the deputy prime minister.

"That is why a contest for the position of president and deputy president was stopped by the Umno general assembly.

"And so Umno continues to be dominated by a president who is being tried for corruption. It is very likely that Umno seats will decline again in the general election."