Officials scotch rumours of sackings at Umno meeting

They deny talk of leaders, including ex-DPM, getting axed at supreme council pow-wow

KUALA LUMPUR • Several top Umno officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is a party vice-president, have denied speculation that heads will roll in today's meeting of the Umno supreme council.

There has been persistent talk that deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin, vice-president Shafie Apdal and several other supreme council members, including Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir and former Terengganu menteri besar Ahmad Said would be axed.

"I have not heard about any sacking. Don't assume the worst," Datuk Seri Zahid told a press conference in Putrajaya yesterday.

His comments followed those of Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who also said that no Umno leader would face the axe.

Mr Khairy, who is also Youth and Sports Minister, told a press conference in Putrajaya yesterday: "I'm 100 per cent certain there will be no sacking of senior Umno leaders tomorrow."

UNLESS PROOF IS SHOWN...

Unless it is proven that they have brought harm to the party, I will object to any move to sack them. Najib has not once asked any of us to attack Muhyiddin... Muhyiddin... has stayed loyal to Umno.

DATUK SERI REEZAL MERICAN, a member of Umno's supreme council

Mr Khairy said today's meeting would just be a regular supreme council meeting.

"We will discuss when to hold the annual general assembly, current political issues and party administration matters," he said.

Mr Khairy had also tweeted about the "positive mood" at Monday's Umno political bureau meeting.

Normally, the Umno management committee, headed by Tan Sri Muhyiddin, would meet before every supreme council meeting, according to The Star newspaper.

On Monday, the political bureau chaired by the party's president, Prime Minister Najib Razak, met instead, adding fuel to the sacking rumours.

The supreme council is the top decision-making body in Umno, and the political bureau is only one level below it. All the top guns, including Mr Muhyiddin and Datuk Seri Shafie, attended the political bureau's meeting.

Other Umno leaders have also openly quashed the sacking rumours. Party vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein said it was not on the agenda, and Housing and Local Government Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan said that he knows "deep in (his) heart it will not happen".

Mr Muhyiddin was replaced by Mr Zahid as deputy prime minister in a Cabinet reshuffle on July 28. The former DPM was removed for raising questions over a financial scandal involving state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), whose chief adviser is Datuk Seri Najib.

Mr Shafie was also sacked from the position of rural and regional development minister.

Mr Muhyiddin's surprise Cabinet sacking triggered widespread speculation that Mr Najib would expel Mr Muhyiddin from Umno to deprive him of influence in the party, according to The Star.

The Umno supreme council is convening today for the first time since Mr Muhyiddin lost his Cabinet post.

There have been critical voices against Mr Muhyiddin, but only two Umno divisions have formally moved resolutions against him.

The Penampang division in Sabah asked that he be hauled up before the disciplinary committee, while the Sungai Besar division in Selangor wants him to resign as deputy president.

The supreme council is overwhelmingly with Mr Najib, but very few of of its members would agree to sacking either Mr Muhyiddin or Mr Shafie, who are elected party officials, The Star said.

"Unless it is proven that they have brought harm to the party, I will object to any move to sack them. Najib has not once asked any of us to attack Muhyiddin," supreme council member Reezal Merican told The Star.

"Muhyiddin also did not behave like Datuk Seri Anwar (Ibrahim), he has stayed loyal to Umno."

Kelantan Umno information chief Alwi Che Ahmad said: "There is no wisdom in sacking Muhyiddin or Shafie. You don't punish a person twice."

Sacking Mr Muhyiddin would also cause more political ripples in Johor Umno. Mr Najib does not need another crisis on his hands, The Star said.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Officials scotch rumours of sackings at Umno meeting'. Print Edition | Subscribe