KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — The Johor Baru Umno division made a strong show of force to defend the leadership of embattled party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today.
Chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Samad denounced the slew of lawmakers who recently quit Umno for the ruling Pakatan Harapan as treasonous liars with no qualms on taking the “back door” route to protect their self-interests.
“We Johor Baru division didn’t vote for Zahid, but he won the majority vote and we respect that decision. We are not Larut that voted for Zahid and then used the excuse that because Zahid is remaining to exit.
“Be truthful, don’t lie to get out, say it straight, ‘I don’t want to be an Opposition MP’,” Shahrir was quoted by Malay daily Sinar Harian as saying in a news conference in Johor Baru.
The former Johor Baru MP was commenting on the series of defections and departures that have left Umno with just 37 MPs now, after 17 quit in the aftermath of the May 9 general election that resulted in the Pakatan Harapan coalition form government.
Shahrir also noted that the departure has fomented a leadership tussle within the central Umo leadership, with remaining elected representatives demanding Ahmad Zahid’s resignation.
“Now there are MPs who want to threaten the party by claiming that if he doesn’t resign, more will leave even though he was chosen by the party,” he was quoted saying, referring to Ahmad Zahid.
“If want to leave, then leave. This is treason, making demands, don’t divert the issue and accuse others to cover our own mistakes,” he was quoted saying further.
Shahrir defended Ahmad Zahid, saying the embattled Umno president had mooted an “amalgamation” in the party administration.
He added that despite the rejection, Ahmad Zahid showed respect for the party’s decision then by not pushing the issue further.
“Those who leapt out of the party are those who entered the government through the back door,” he was quoted saying.