Asia

Umno chief calls for loyalty amid schism over move to cut ties with PM Muhyiddin

KUALA LUMPUR – Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi accused detractors of the leadership’s decision to cut ties with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin at upcoming elections of undermining the party’s efforts to regain dominance of Malaysian politics.

Opening the annual general assembly on Sunday (March 28), the former deputy premier also told the nation’s largest party that it must prepare to lead the four-member Barisan Nasional (BN) at fresh polls – expected soon after an emergency to contain Covid-19 expires by August – without any other allies.

“Umno will not be influenced by the cluster of usurpers, to change the decision we have made. This cluster and their minions are still trying to damage the party. If you want to be a leader and member, abide by the party decision,” he said in his policy speech.

“If anyone on this stage,” he added, referring to the party leadership, “or outside, contradicts the decision by the supreme council, I leave the delegates to take action against them”.

The move has been criticised by those who want to continue in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) pact with Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), as it joins together the three main parties that represent the Malay majority.

The likes of sacked BN secretary general Annuar Musa – removed by Zahid in January – and former vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein question whether the break with Bersatu means Zahid’s faction is moving towards a pact with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim whose Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition is accused of undermining Malay-Muslim interests. PH includes the much-disliked Democratic Action Party (DAP).

But Zahid rejected the assertion despite Datuk Seri Anwar claiming a fortnight ago that preliminary talks had begun.

“I want to make our stance clear, which is no Bersatu, no Anwar, no DAP!” he said just before ending his address.

Zahid also claimed there was a movement trying to overturn the decision to part ways with Bersatu which he accused of “dishonest political treachery… to destroy and replace Umno”.

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