Do Umno leaders vacate posts once charged in court? Constitution unclear, says Ku Li

President of the UMNO Council of Advisors Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah speaks during the book launch of 'The End of Umno?' in Kuala Lumpur October 20, 2018. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
President of the UMNO Council of Advisors Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah speaks during the book launch of 'The End of Umno?' in Kuala Lumpur October 20, 2018. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — Umno’s party constitution does not outline if its leaders have to leave their posts when charged in court, said its Council of Advisors chairman Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

However, he added it was general practice for leaders in such positions to take leave at the very least, or resign outright from their positions.

“If they give up their positions (other) people can take charge of the party, and if they want to come back they can always do so later,” said the Umno veteran fondly known as Ku Li, during his book launch on the post-GE14 outlook for the party.

He cited several previous leaders, including former vice-president Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, and former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Harun Idris, who had done so in the past.

Tengku Razaleigh was referring to incumbent president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is currently being charged with money laundering and criminal breach of trust of over RM114 million.

“I have heard some prominent members speak at length on the subject, but we have yet to hear from the grassroots.

“By practice it should be the deputy president (former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan) who takes over if the president vacates, but then again, he is not a parliamentarian,” he said.

Tengku Razaleigh said in his opinion a party re-election should be conducted to fill the president’s post, but added that since he is not a Supreme Council nor an Executive Committee member he has no say in the matter.

When asked if this could potentially be fatal to the party, he said it is unlikely.

“Those below do not feel it as much as those at the top. Just because a party leader or leaders dies or is not there does not mean Umno is also done for.

“Rather I believe it will continue so long as its members remain true to the struggle in maintaining the party’s position,” he said.

* A previous version of this story mistakenly cited Datuk Seri Harun Idris as the former Melaka Chief Minister. The error has since been corrected. 

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