130 Umno division chiefs back Zahid amid calls for him to step down

Barisan Nasional president Zahid Hamidi arrived at about 3.45pm to meet the division chiefs. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR – Some 130 Umno division chiefs want party president Zahid Hamidi to continue helming the party, amid calls for his resignation.

The division chiefs from around Malaysia held a Solidarity for President gathering at the Riverside Cafe next to Umno’s headquarters at Menara Dato’ Onn in Kuala Lumpur at about 3pm on Thursday.

“We advise our friends who have doubts, concerns or are still deciding whether to support the president to return to the fold. We accept them with open arms. We want a united Umno, as we won only 26 seats,” Wangsa Maju division chief Mohd Shafei Abdullah told reporters. “We will be facing a disastrous future if we do not unite.”

Acting as spokesman for the group, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafei said 90 division chiefs attended the gathering, with 40 others expressing their support for Zahid.

There are a total of 191 divisions in Umno.

Mr Mohd Shafei also expressed regret that the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) have signed a no-confidence letter against Zahid as Barisan Nasional’s (BN) chairman.

Zahid arrived at about 3.45pm to meet the division chiefs, before leaving about half an hour later without speaking to the media.

In the just-concluded general election, BN won 30 seats. Apart from Umno’s 26, the rest were from MCA (two seats) and one each from MIC and PBRS.

It was BN’s worst election performance, resulting in calls from a number of Umno leaders for Zahid’s resignation. They included former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin, Selangor Umno chairman Noh Omar, former Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan and Johor Menteri Besar Onn Hafiz Ghazi.

Meanwhile, a separate group calling themselves the President Supporters earlier gathered outside Menara Dato’ Onn at about noon.

The group – led by political and economic analyst Ramalan Yunus – said Malaysia’s King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, has expressed his wish to see a unity government, which should be respected by all parties and the people.

“It’s beyond politics now and up to the King and Malay rulers to decide. We have the Rukun Negara, where the second tenet states that we should be loyal to the King.

“I call on all groups who are protesting to stop the anti-campaign against Ahmad Zahid and respect the decision of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” he said, adding that the group comprised Umno grassroots members.

Meanwhile, earlier on Thursday, PBRS deputy president Arthur Joseph Kurup said any decision made by Barisan to form a stable government must be endorsed by all parties.

In a statement, he also said the party took note of the latest decision by the Umno supreme council to support and take part in a unity government not led by Perikatan Nasional.

“PBRS will abide by whatever decision made by Barisan in the interest of a stable government,” he said. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.