Outspoken former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and former Selangor Umno chief Noh Omar have been expelled from the party, after a meeting of its Supreme Council last night, chaired by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, to purge the party of members critical of decisions by the top leadership.
The council also slapped suspension orders on Sembrong MP and former vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein, former information chief Shahril Hamdan, former Jempol MP Salim Shariff and Tebrau Umno chief Maulizan Bujang.
A statement issued by Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said that 42 members from Johor, Pahang, Selangor and Putrajaya had also been expelled for various offences, including standing as independent candidates in the general election.
Earlier, Noh, who is also on the Supreme Council, walked out of the meeting and informed reporters that he had asked to be sacked.
He said it was pointless for him to be suspended for six years, adding that he had fought for Umno for more than four decades.
It is understood that Noh, who was dropped from defending his Tanjong Karang parliamentary constituency in the last election, was accused of 16 counts of "sabotaging" the party during the recent general election campaign.
Last night's move came just two weeks after a controversial motion banning any challenge to Zahid and his deputy Mohamad Hasan was passed at the Umno general assembly, a decision that Khairy had slammed as undemocratic and described as "madness".
Tonight's decision also put paid to any hope of Khairy challenging Zahid for the president's post.
He last stood against Zahid for the Umno presidency in 2018, emerging second in a three-way race which also involved party veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
Khairy was among several senior Umno leaders who called for Zahid's resignation following the party's worst electoral performance ever in the November polls, the aftermath of which saw the Umno chief taking 30 MPs from Barisan Nasional to back PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister.
In a move to sideline him, Khairy was transferred out of his Rembau parliamentary seat, with Hasan named as candidate in his place, ensuring the former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar a place in the Dewan Rakyat.
While campaigning for the Sungai Buloh seat, Khairy openly declared his intention to contest the Umno presidency, adding that the party had lost its way and should be "fixed".