KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 — Umno’s move to not open up the top two party positions for its members to contest has actually breached the law, as shown by the fact that Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail had to step in to use his powers to legitimise the party’s action, Khairy Jamaluddin claimed.
Khairy cited Saifuddin Nasution’s announcement yesterday that the ministry was using its powers under the Societies Act to exempt Umno from complying with that law in relation to the non-contesting of the president and deputy president posts in this year’s party elections.
Khairy, who was formerly Umno Youth chief but has now been sacked from the party, argued that this was proof that Umno’s action was invalid.
“So what does it mean? If the home minister is forced to use the powers of exemption in law, it means the matter referred to must have breached the Societies Act.
“If not, there is no need for an exemption from the minister. The minister used his powers to exempt the invalid action so that it can be ‘dihalalkan’ (made valid),” he said in a brief video clip posted on his Instagram account last night.
He also cited a viral letter allegedly from the Registrar of Societies which said Umno’s motion to not contest the top two posts was invalid as it was in breach of Article 9.3 in Umno’s party constitution, saying that this letter appeared to be genuine to him.
Khairy said the motion for the top two posts to go unchallenged — which was brought by Umno’s Rembau division and which was passed with a majority vote in the 2022 Umno general assembly in January — was in breach of Umno’s own party constitution’s Article 9.3, which required the party’s permanent chairman, deputy permanent chairman, president, deputy president, three vice-presidents and 25 supreme council members to be elected once every three years.
Khairy said this meant that the right of Umno members and Umno delegates to elect their own president and deputy president has been denied, claiming: “Your right to choose the president and deputy president has been robbed by this bogus motion.”
Khairy asserted that there was only one way for the allegedly invalid motion to be made legitimate, which was to have the home minister use his powers under Section 70 of the Societies Act to legitimise it.
He also said that Umno would not need the home minister to provide an exemption to avoid deregistration, again citing the purported RoS letter when insisting that all Umno was required to do was to carry out “corrective” measures.
Khairy also said that his heart was still with Umno even though he is no longer a party member and that he was saddened that this was what the party was left with.
Yesterday, Saifuddin said the Home Ministry had under Section 70 of the Societies Act decided to exempt Umno from complying with that Act’s Section 13(1)(c)(iv) in relation to the approved motion in the 2022 Umno general assembly to not have the top two posts contested, after the reference was made to Umno’s party constitution and its rules.
Under Section 13(1)(c)(iv), the Registrar of Societies may cancel the registration of any society if the Registrar is satisfied that the registered society has wilfully contravened any provisions of the Societies Act or any regulations made under the Act or any of its rules, among other things.
Section 70 states the home minister’s power to use his discretion to exempt any society registered under the Societies Act from all or any of the provisions of the Act.
Yesterday, Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed to have no knowledge of the viral letter from the RoS which had said the Umno motion — for the top two posts to go unchallenged — was invalid.
Zahid said Umno’s secretary-general had received a letter from the Home Ministry to approve the no-contest motion for the top two posts and said it was sufficient to prove that the motion was legitimate, also insisting that the Home Minister has the final say.