Umno rebel group says eyeing new political party headed by Mahathir

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.PHOTO: THE STAR PUBLICATION

PETALING JAYA - A group comprising some rebel Umno branch leaders has floated the idea of forming a new political party headed by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the two leaders who were sacked on Friday - Tun Dr Mahathir's son Mukhriz Mahathir and former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

The Gerakan Ketua Cawangan Malaysia (GKCM) group raised the suggestion in a statement released on Saturday (June 25), the Malaysiakini news website reported.

"GKCM will commence action. Umno is plagued by a serious loss of confidence. Is it goodbye to Umno?" the website cited the group's president Kamarul Azman as saying in a statement.

The group also claimed that Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also Umno party president, was facing integrity issues, adding that the people would rise up against what it alleged was the widespread abuse of power in the country.

The GKCM's call came a day after Tan Sri Muhyiddin and Datuk Seri Mukhriz, the party's two biggest rebels, were sacked on Friday, following recent elections that have strengthened Datuk Seri Najib's hand.

The GKCM had previously declared Dr Mahathir as the official patron of an Umno grassroots leadership movement seeking to oust Mr Najib from offic e.

Mr Muhyiddin, 69, who was Umno's deputy president, was sacked 11 months after Mr Najib fired him from the Cabinet in a shocking move for raising questions about the scandal surrounding state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The removal of Mr Mukhriz, 51, was done four months after he was forced to step down as Kedah chief minister.

The sackings, effective immediately, was made at Friday's meeting of Umno's Supreme Council, the decision-making body of Malaysia's biggest party. Umno Vice President Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has called on Umno members to accept the Supreme Council's decision on the matter with an open heart, the New Straits Times reported.

Both Mr Muhyiddin and Mr Mukhriz did not actively campaign for the party at the recent twin by-elections in Selangor and Kedah, or in the Sarawak state elections last month.

Meanwhile, jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has reminded his opposition colleagues to set aside their differences following the recent election defeats, The Star reported.

In a message from prison where he is serving term for sodomy, Datuk Seri Anwar advised his colleagues in the opposition to "take a hard look at our weaknesses" following the defeats in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections.

He reminded that it was the opposition's moral duty to provide a genuine alternative to the people and urged them to set aside their differences in time for the next general election.

"The Opposition must look at this electoral outcome with humility and take a hard look at our weaknesses. This is no time for excuses or blame," he said.

"Remember constantly that it is our moral duty to provide a genuine alternative to the people. Put aside all differences, put aside internecine quarrels. Bring up grievances in the proper forum; sit together and resolve matters," he said in his first comments on the by-elections that were held on June 18.

Barisan Nasional retained both the parliamentary constituencies, with the votes for the opposition split between Amanah in the Pakatan Harapan coalition and the Parti Islam SeMalaysia.