KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz is a longtime Umno member, said the party’s secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan.
The confirmation came amid rife speculation that Tengku Zafrul had been eyeing to run in the next general election.
According to Ahmad, the finance minister was an Umno member before he became a Cabinet member.
“Yes, I confirm that Tengku Zafrul is an Umno member,” he was quoted as saying in a report by Utusan Malaysia.
However, Ahmad is unclear as to which division the finance minister belonged to but noted that the latter’s sibling Tengku Zuhri Abdul Aziz, was the Lembah Pantai Umno deputy chief.
Meanwhile, Tengku Zafrul’s profile on the Parliament website does not list any party affiliation. He is listed as a senator.
The former banker became a minister under Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration and kept his job when Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob took over as prime minister.
However, speculation has been rife that Zafrul is eyeing to contest on a Barisan Nasional (BN) ticket in the next general election.
This is despite BN chairman and Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi — who signs off on candidates — being perceived as a critic of Tengku Zafrul, as witnessed by the former’s efforts to pressure the government into allowing for multiple Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF) special withdrawals over the past year.
One seat reportedly being staked out by Tengku Zafrul is Sungai Besar.
Umno division chief Datuk Seri Jamal Md Yunos reportedly said on Monday that he was willing to make way for the finance minister during the general election.
Jamal was quoted by Utusan Malaysia as saying that Umno should also consider possibly fielding Tengku Zafrul in other seats in Selangor.
The Sungai Besar Umno chief is aligned with Selangor Umno chief Tan Sri Noh Omar. The camp’s alliances with Tengku Zafrul, as well as the pursuit of cooperation with PAS, have put them at odds with Ahmad Zahid.
Meanwhile, apart from Sungai Besar, former federal territories minister Datuk Seri Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin last year also touted Tengku Zafrul as a winnable candidate for Umno in the Lembah Pantai seat.
The Lembah Pantai seat is currently held by PKR’s Fahmi Fadzil.