KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 18 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today he has handed over his duties as Umno president to deputy Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan, in an attempt to prevent more party members from quitting the party.
The decision takes effect immediately, but the Bagan Datuk MP insisted that he has not quit as party president.
“I hope all polemic regarding the leadership will end and I want grassroots leader to focus on strengthening the party,” he said in a statement right after a dialogue session in Menara Dato’ Onn here.
“I hope that there will be no more move to quit the party by MPs and state assemblymen,” he added.
Later at a press conference, Zahid denied that he was under pressure by anyone to hand over his duties.
“If it’s true that I am the main reason [behind Umno members leaving], then I believe the best decision is to entrust the duties of the party president to my deputy Datuk Mohamad Hassan.
“This is in line with Umno’s constitution whereby if the president doesn’t receive [guidance from Allah], the best step he should take is to entrust the deputy president to conduct the duties of a president,” said Zahid.
He also said Mohamad will have full powers and authority as president for a certain period of time, backed by the party’s three vice-presidents, the three wing chiefs, and the Supreme Council.
However, he did not specify the time frame that Mohamad, also fondly known as Tok Mat, will lead the party in his absence.
“Well [he will hold the reins], until Tok Mat feels he doesn’t want the responsibility anymore or he believes I can continue the job. I have informed him and the other two vice-presidents. For the time being, I am still the president without any duties,” said Zahid.