KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is the Umno president who has succeeded in elevating the party from being “in the drain” to becoming popular again, Mohamad Khir Toyo said.

In an interview with Malaysiakini, Mohamad Khir said Umno’s wins in the Melaka and Johor state elections as well as by-elections held since 2018 should be credited to Ahmad Zahid.

“After the 14th general elections (GE14), Umno lost in 2018. Umno was in the drain, nobody wanted Umno.

“At the time of the elections of the division head, many did not want to participate and members of Parliament were 'hopping' parties in large numbers.

“But today Umno has become something very appealing. There are those who have 'hopped' away who now want to return. Now Umno is in the spotlight,” he was quoted as saying.

Mohamad Khir believes that the revival of Umno follows not only the defeat at GE14, but also the general elections in 2008 when Barisan Nasional failed to receive two-thirds of Dewan Rakyat for the first time and lost four states: Selangor, Perak, Kedah and Penang.

Despite Ahmad Zahid’s current occupation in controversial court cases, Mohamad Khir's trust in the Umno president remains strong, as he referred to him as a leader who has direction for the party.

The real direction of a political party is aimed towards winning elections, clarified Mohamad Khir to the online news portal, whereas economic issues are shouldered by the government, which Umno lacks full control over.

“So what are Ahmad Zahid’s failures?” he was quoted as asking rhetorically.

“From Umno being in the drain to being a success today. From Umno losing elections to winning them,” he added.

In January this year, Ahmad Zahid was ordered by the High Court to enter his defence over 47 charges including criminal breach of trust, bribery, and money laundering.

His trials for the charges are currently ongoing.