KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia’s former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin has been sacked from Umno for “violating party discipline”, while former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein has been suspended, the party announced on Friday.
Datuk Seri Hishammuddin, a former party vice-president, and former Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan were among a handful of members suspended for six years, said Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan after a supreme council meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
“Tonight I was sacked by the party I love, to which I showed allegiance. Unbowed, unbent, unbroken,” Mr Khairy tweeted after the decision.
The supreme council meeting on Friday night at Menara Dato Onn was closely watched by political observers amid mounting speculation that disciplinary action would be taken against former Rembau MP Khairy.
His party membership was in question after his recent claims that “imported delegates” were “brought in” at a recent Umno general assembly to manipulate voting.
The assembly voted that there would be no contest for the party’s two top posts at the upcoming party polls.
The former Umno youth chief said on Thursday he is ready to face any action, including sacking.
“Of course I’m prepared for anything. This is politics after all – you don’t go into politics not being prepared for any eventuality,” he said.
Mr Khairy contested the Sungai Buloh parliamentary constituency at last year’s general election, which saw a seven-cornered fight. The former three-term MP lost to Pakatan Harapan’s Ramanan Ramakrishnan.
Earlier on Friday, Umno, a key member of Malaysia’s unity government, sacked its former Selangor division chief Noh Omar, the first of several members disciplined for speaking out against the no-contest decision.
Tan Sri Noh Omar had said that it was “better to sack me than suspend me” when he was told of the party’s decision to suspend him for six years.
“Tonight is historic for me. The party president (Malaysia deputy prime minister Zahid Hamidi) in his address at the Umno supreme council meeting announced that a few members would be sacked and suspended.
“All of a sudden, I heard my name being announced that I was to be suspended for six years,” he told reporters after leaving the Umno supreme council meeting.
He questioned the decision made by the party president as he has yet to be hauled up before the party’s disciplinary board.
“He (Zahid) told me to see the disciplinary board this coming Monday. What sort of ‘jungle law’ is this?” a visibly shaken Mr Noh said after storming out of the meeting.
He said that he then requested to be sacked, and this was accepted by Zahid.
“He accepted my suggestion. If I was not sacked, I would not be here speaking to the media,” he added.
The purge comes ahead of Umno’s party polls that are now set to run from Feb 1 to March 18.
On Thursday, Zahid said the party will be seeking a “mass cleansing”, including “saboteurs” and those who have “shot themselves in the foot”.
Also on Friday night, vice-president Khaled Nordin was announced as the new chief of the party’s Johor chapter, replacing former state chief minister Hasni Mohammad.
Earlier this month, Mr Noh said he fears for Umno’s chances in the upcoming state elections following the party’s decision not to contest its top two posts at upcoming party polls.
An Umno general assembly saw delegates supporting a motion to ensure there will be no challenge to party president Zahid and his deputy Mohamad Hasan.
Mr Noh pointed out that Umno had given the same reason when amending its Constitution last year to postpone the party polls until six months after last November’s general election.
“In the end, Umno won only 26 seats. Now, Umno is facing six state elections and the same excuse is being used (for the no-contest motion), that is, to prevent a split in the party,” he wrote on Facebook.
“I am concerned that voters in these six states will reject Umno candidates.”
Mr Noh resigned from his Umno post a day after the general election, saying he had lost confidence in Zahid’s leadership following Barisan Nasional’s poor showing at the polls, where it won just 30 seats. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK