KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 — Umno will not abandon its former president Datuk Seri Najib Razak and incumbent president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi despite the criminal charges against them, said Tan Sri Annuar Musa.
Annuar, who is Umno secretary-general, said the party currently regards both men as innocent but respects the due process of the law to decide if they are guilty of the crimes that they were accused of.
“We cannot or we must not abandon our leaders when we know very well that we are facing authorities that are hostile, bias and probably with an ulterior motive.
“There may be some truth to the charges but let the due process of law take its course. However, we will not punish our leaders just because they have been charged in court,” he told Malay Mail in an interview last week.
“Until and unless they are proven guilty, we regard them as innocent and since they were elected through a certain process within the party, we must respect the system and process involved.
“For example, Datuk Seri Najib was elected as head of the Pekan Umno division, so we must respect that, and Datuk Seri Zahid was elected as party president, so we must respect that too. Above all, we want them to be given a fair trial,” he said.
Umno also cannot afford to cut off its relationship with party leaders just because they have been charged in court, he added.
Annuar claimed that this could prompt the ruling administration to prosecute more Umno leaders in an attempt to ensure that it ends up “killing its own” leaders.
“We are not going to betray them because later, the people in charge will take advantage of the situation and probably charge more people with an ulterior motive so that we will kill our own leaders.
“We do not want to fall into this trap,” he said.
Speaking on Najib’s newfound popularity under the moniker “Bossku”, Annuar acknowledged that the former prime minister has been hugely successful in galvanising support from the rakyat.
Since Barisan Nasional was voted out of power on May 9 last year, Najib has reinvented himself as the champion of the common man via his “Malu apa Bossku” campaign.
Annuar said although “Bossku” is not done formally on Umno’s platform, the party still cooperates with Najib on his own personal programmes or roadshows.
“For example, he is now doing the Bossku programme. He is doing it on his own and not part of our party programme, but we do cooperate. There is no reason that we should not.
“If he is doing good and wants to help the party regain lost ground, then why not? We must not disown a friend and party leader just because he is prosecuted by our enemy,” he said.
Najib is currently facing a slew of corruption and abuse of power charges related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
Zahid is also facing 87 charges in total for corruption and abuse of power related to receiving monies from illegal activities and bribes.