PUTRAJAYA, Aug 23 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said he has not felt any pressure from Umno to intervene in the ongoing hearing of party colleague Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is fighting against a 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine after being convicted of corruption.
“None,” he replied to reporters here who asked him to clarify rumours that yesterday’s Umno meeting in Kuala Lumpur was called at the behest of top party leaders who hoped he would intervene in Najib’s final SRC International Sdn Bhd conviction appeal.
Ismail Sabri said the party meeting with division chiefs was only to discuss ways to strengthen Umno, which was nothing extraordinary.
He was then asked if Umno leaders had pressed him to call for national elections sooner rather than later.
“I’m not sure, I was not there,” he replied.
Elaborating, he explained that he was given the impression that nothing extraordinary was discussed at the Umno meeting based on party deputy president Datuk Mohamad Hasan’s post-meeting statement last night.
“He gave a statement in Perak yesterday. The meeting was more on strengthening the party. This is normal with Umno,” Ismail Sabri, who is one of Umno’s three vice-presidents, told reporters after the Budget 2023 Consultation event here this afternoon.
Umno division leaders had met at the party headquarters last night for a meeting with president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
According to media reports, the majority of division heads who attended the meeting rejected a bid asking the prime minister’s intervention in the SRC International appeal hearing, which is ongoing at the Federal Court, and to get a three-month postponement.
Local news outlet Astro Awani cited an anonymous source close to Umno saying that division leaders had been forced to attend the meeting or risk being left out of being named as candidates in the 15th general election.
The source also claimed that many Umno division heads believed that the party would lose at the polls if the PM should intercede on Najib’s behalf on court matters.
Astro Awani reported the same source saying that the meeting also sought to get the division heads’ views on asking the PM to advise the attorney general to push for prosecutorial action against Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali who was the SRC International trial judge and who has since been elevated to the Court of Appeal.
Malay Mail was told by Umno insiders aligned to Ismail Sabri that fewer than 80 division heads attended yesterday’s meeting.
However, those aligned to Umno president Ahmad Zahid claimed that 158 division leaders were present.