KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — A power struggle among factions vying for top leadership posts within Umno has surfaced just months ahead of the party’s general assembly in November, a report has claimed.
The eagerness shown by many to vie for top posts, as reported by the Straits Times (ST), was supposedly sparked by the revival of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself, who since losing the election has rebranded himself on social media.
His “Malu Apa BossKu” slogan, said to be an attempt at vindicating himself from the slew of criminal court charges brought against him, has since gained traction with the younger Malay community, even recently releasing a music video and having previously speaking openly about returning to power.
Najib’s presence, despite being slapped with multiple corruption, abuse of power, and money laundering charges over funds allegedly misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), has also been credited by certain quarters as the clutch that gave Umno victory in three recent by-elections, the report further said.
The ST also claimed former party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had apparently taken pointers from his former boss, with talks of him ending his leave prematurely and returning to the fray having recently gained traction.
The report quoted Ahmad Zahid from over two separate occasions, where he said that “something big” was about to happen to the country, and when that happens he will return to lead Umno.
“Look at ‘Bossku’, even though he was hit with accusations but he is the most popular in the country,” Ahmad Zahid was quoted saying, referring to Najib.
“It is not about the pressure from the grassroots, but if I am needed, I will return and my services will be available everywhere,” the former deputy prime minister was further quoted in the report.
Ahmad Zahid himself has been slapped with 47 charges of offences ranging from money laundering, criminal breach of trust, and corruption involving millions of ringgit belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi, a foundation he led.
However, the revival of Najib, Ahmad Zahid, or other party warlords would, according to sources cited by the report, depends on current acting president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan’s push for party constitutional amendments.
Party sources had revealed that Mohamad is supposedly an active proponent for amendments that will see leaders convicted of criminal offenses be disqualified from taking up any party leadership posts.
The report also claimed a committee overseeing the process of these constitutional amendments is being headed by Mohamad’s ally and party vice president, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, with several officials publicly confirming the motion to bar convicted members.
Support from two-thirds of the party’s delegates would be needed to see through the amendment, something many observers feel would be an uphill task considering the support available to party big fishes, who they saw as capable of amassing enough support to block the motion.
“I want to see how they are going to sell this to the members,” Johor Umno deputy chief Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed was quoted saying in the ST report.
“It’s the internal shenanigans of a party that doesn’t realise it’s in opposition now,” added the former deputy minister.