KUALA LUMPUR - Barisan Nasional's (BN) recently sacked secretary-general said on Wednesday (Jan 6) that Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had sent a letter to the King supporting opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to become Malaysia's prime minister.
Zahid was also plotting to topple the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) by negotiating with the Chinese-based Democratic Action Party (DAP) to form a new government, said Tan Sri Annuar Musa.
"I can confirm that there was support in black and white given by the Barisan Nasional chairman and Umno president for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to topple the ruling Perikatan Nasional," Mr Annuar told a news conference.
"I also received verified information on the place and date of a purported meeting with DAP in an attempt to form a new political alignment," he said.
Mr Annuar showed the purported letter of support for Mr Anwar, dated Oct 11, 2020, to the media, just one day after he was ousted from his position as secretary-general in the BN coalition. He said he had verified that the letter was authentic.
BN is a four-party coalition comprising Umno (38 MPs), the Malaysian Chinese Association (two MPs), the Malaysian Indian Congress (one MP) and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (one MP).
Meanwhile, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng came out to refute Mr Annuar's claims and said any political cooperation between Umno and DAP was highly unlikely owing to their contrasting ideologies.
"Don't drag us into this. Don't use us as a pretext to save your own political skin. This is wrong and dishonest," Mr Lim was quoted as saying by the Free Malaysia Today news website.
Mr Anwar, who is Parti Keadilan Rakyat president, claimed last September that he had a "strong" majority support in Parliament, with the backing of more than 120 MPs in the 222-strong House. However, he never announced their names and his claims have since fizzled out.
Mr Annuar remains Federal Territories Minister.
His dismissal from his post on Tuesday is believed to have stemmed from his staunch backing of Umno's continued collaboration with the PN government, going against Zahid, who wants Umno to abandon the PN coalition in order to remain the dominant Malay party.
The annual meetings of 189 of Umno's 191 divisions throughout Malaysia last weekend saw a big majority agreeing to ditch cooperation with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), and force fresh elections by end-March.
Mr Annuar's attacks against Zahid was on the same day that Umno's highest decision-making supreme council was to meet and discuss demands from most of the divisions to cut off ties with Bersatu when the next general election comes around.
After the supreme council on Wednesday evening, the party's leadership said in a statement that the motion raised by the divisions about Bersatu will be brought to the annual Umno general assembly on Jan 31, and put to a vote. The statement was signed by party information chief Shahril Hamdan.
The other two motions raised by the divisions - to strengthen relations with ally Parti Islam SeMalaysia, and to lobby for the general election to be held by end-March depending on the country's Covid-19 situation - will also be brought to the annual assembly.
Meanwhile, PM Muhyiddin chaired a Bersatu supreme council meeting on Wednesday evening at his party's headquarters. The meeting was to discuss its cooperation with its PN allies and preparations for the polls.
The calls for polls amid rising Covid-19 cases led Umno MP Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, to tweet on Wednesday: "Those calling for GE (general election) before the pandemic is brought under control are irresponsible. And I know among those asking for a snap general election are from my own party. Don't be selfish."
Former Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein said Umno needs to be clear on its alliances or risk losing more seats in the next general election.
"If the party decides not to continue cooperating with Bersatu, the party must decide with whom it will cooperate by (the next general election). Is it with DAP? Is it with PKR? Or go it alone?" Datuk Seri Hishammuddin said.
"The lesson that Umno should take is that we (BN) won only 79 seats in (the last general election) out of the 133 seats we won in (the previous general election). This means we lost 54 seats. We must repent," he said.
In October, Zahid was criticised by leaders from within his own party as well as its allies in PN for having announced his support for Mr Anwar.
On Oct 26, the Umno supreme council declared it would continue to support the PN government led by Mr Muhyiddin, and rejected the idea of supporting either Mr Anwar or the DAP.
Mr Annuar's allegations on Wednesday come after many months of bickering within the increasingly shaky PN.
Many Umno leaders are unhappy at being given less important Cabinet posts in the 10-month-old PN government as leaders from Bersatu were given senior ministerial posts despite it being a smaller party than Umno.
There is also dissatisfaction among Umno leaders over several of their MPs, including Zahid, facing corruption charges.
Former premier Najib Razak was convicted in July last year in a case linked to scandal-tainted 1MDB, and former Umno treasurer-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor was found guilty last month in a corruption case.