KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — Umno has announced its vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as the new Opposition Leader today, replacing his predecessor Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who is on leave as party president.
The announcement was made by Umno acting president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan at the Umno headquarters here, after its supreme council meeting.
“The supreme council has agreed on the new appointment of the Opposition Leader, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri.
“[The appointment] is by virtue of seniority and high ranking,” he said, in which Ismail Sabri currently acts as the party deputy president.
Another vice-president, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, is now the new party whip.
“The chief whip position is passed over to next-in-line, which is Mahdzir Khalid,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mohamad said there are no gag orders against any Umno members from expressing views that do not represent the party spirit.
But Mohamad had also advised that party members be wary of their statements, which may come with repercussions.
“There is no gag order on anyone. This is a free country, democratic country. Anybody can say what they want.
“We never had any kind of instructions, conditions imposed on all our members or all our leaders.
“But as a leader, they should know what they want to say. Whether it is detrimental to the party or the country,” he said.
Mohamad also told the party’s leaders to be mindful during the upcoming Rantau by-election, which is to be held on April 13.
“In Rantau [by-election] be careful, we have to be more careful with what we are saying.
“Sometimes we don’t say but all of you spin. That is the problem,” he said, referring to the media.
In the recent Semenyih by-election, Barisan Nasional secretary-general Datuk Nazri Aziz had questioned the appointment of several non-Malays to top government positions during his campaign speech.
Mohamad himself was quoted in a ceramah labelling non-Malay ministers as “penumpang”, or passengers, in the Pakatan Harapan administration.