JOHOR BARU, Oct 26 — A veteran Johor Umno grassroots leader backed today the call by Umno Youth for party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to temporarily step aside pending the outcome of his corruption trial.
Tebrau Umno division chief Datuk Maulizan Bujang said he agreed with Umno Youth’s stand on the matter as it represented the views of the grassroots’ members and hoped Ahmad Zahid can seriously consider the recommendations of the movement.
“Taking a leave in such circumstances is also in line with Umno’s convention that if any leaders or members are charged, they should take leave to focus on their trial until it is over,” he said in a brief statement today.
Maulizan added that Ahmad Zahid’s leave will allow him to focus on his trial while paving the way for Umno to focus on the party’s urgent recovery.
The 55-year-old former Johor executive committee member in the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration is among a handful of Johor division leaders who were known to have openly called for change in Umno top leadership during the recent Umno elections.
It is believed that Maulizan’s public stand calling for Ahmad Zahid’s leave is the first for a Johor Umno division leader
Yesterday, Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said going on leave would allow Ahmad Zahid to better focus on his upcoming corruption trial, adding that he was not calling for Zahid’s resignation.
His view comes days after Umno veteran member Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said it was best for Zahid to either take leave or resign from his post as was the practice of the Malay party’s previous leaders who had been charged in court.
Ahmad Zahid, the former deputy prime minister, was elected as the Umno president in July.
He is currently facing 45 charges related to criminal breach of trust, money laundering and corruption, involving more than RM100 million.