KUALA LUMPUR - Thirteen Umno branch chiefs in Negeri Sembilan have put their heads on the chopping block by openly asking for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to resign, saying they had lost confidence in his leadership.
The 13 branch chiefs from Telok Kemang in Negeri Sembilan said they were calling for Datuk Seri Najib's resignation in order to save Umno from disaster at the next general election due in 2018, the Malaysiakini news website reported. The group made the announcement at a press conference on Saturday (Oct 24).
"We always pray for the best for our party president, but with the short time we have left for the next general election, this is not the time to be sentimental," Taman Telok Kemang branch chief Kamarul Azman Habibur Rahman said. "Umno is now seen as a party that has failed to settle its own problems," he added.
While the group made up a small fraction of Umno leaders, their announcement showed that Najib still has some way to go to smooth feathers in his own party, coming after a recent poll showed public support for his leadership has been eroded. Umno has more than 20,000 branches under its 191 divisions.
Recent polling saw nearly four out of five Malaysians saying they are unhappy with the Najib administration, largely due to its handling of the economy.
Najib has faced mounting calls to resign over allegations of financial misconduct in state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad and the poor explanation of how US$700 million (S$975 million) - or RM2.6 billion - ended up in his private accounts.
The group's call also came a day after Najib unveiled his 2016 Budget in parliament. As part of a bid to help stimulate an economy facing headwinds from slower global growth and the corruption allegations, Najib offered extra cash handouts for the poor and tax reliefs for middle-income earners who are facing rising living costs.
The government also forecast economic growth of 4.0 to 5.0 per cent in 2016, down from an expected 4.5-5.5 per cent this year.
Meanwhile, Cheras Umno chief Datuk Seri Syed Ali Alhabshee said on Saturday (Oct 24) that Umno will not seek to bring up a motion of no confidence against Najib at the Umno annual general assembly meeting in December.
Syed Ali made the comments in response to queries from reporters on whether the motion would be discussed in the upcoming meeting. He added that there was no need to raise the motion as the members always believed in supporting the Umno leadership.