KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today revealed that Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and several senior party leaders had informed him of their wish to leave Umno months before the current exodus of leaders.
Asked to comment on photos of him meeting the Umno leaders, the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) chairman denied Mohamad’s claim that they met him to urge him to spare their party from being disbanded.
“No, they just came to see me and told me that they were going to leave Umno. They wanted my advice; that is all,” he told reporters after attending the 20th anniversary of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia and the launch of the Scholar’s Library.
Yesterday, Malay Mail reported that the Umno deputy president had confirmed that the pictures of him and several other party leaders meeting Dr Mahathir are genuine, amid rumours of further defections to the prime minister’s party.
However, Mohamad said the pictures — which depicted him, Tanjong Karang MP Tan Sri Noh Omar, Arau MP Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, and former Federal Territories minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor having a meal with Dr Mahathir — were taken a few months ago, after the PM’s return from the September general assembly of the United Nations in New York.
“After the United Nations general assembly, Tun said he wanted to dissolve Umno. So we met him. We asked Tun not to dissolve Umno,” Mohamad had told Malay Mail.
“He said he wouldn’t do it.”
The pictures were spread online after Sabah Umno was routed on Wednesday, as nine out 10 assemblymen, four out of five MPs, and the bulk of the party’s state liaison committee announced their decision to leave the Opposition party.
Today, six more Umno representatives were reported to have quit the party.