PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The majority of Umno's supreme council disagreed with party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's directive to withdraw support for Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister at this point in time, said Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Berita Harian reported Datuk Seri Ismail as saying that supreme council members, including him, spoke out during a recent meeting against the decision to withdraw the party's support amid the current pandemic as it was not a reasonable move.
Mr Ismail, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, said this was not the right time for politicking and efforts should be focused on assisting the people who are facing hardship during the current Covid-19 outbreak.
"The only supreme council member who did not attend the meeting on Wednesday night (July 7) was Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, who was unwell.
"During the meeting, all who were present said that they disagreed with withdrawing support for the Prime Minister.
"Instead, we were of the view that we must solve the issues faced by the rakyat (people) who are being burdened by hardships and have had their lives severely affected by the ongoing pandemic - that is the priority now.
"We understand the people's predicament and we are doing our best in finding ways to help them, so put this politicking aside for now. This is not the right time to withdraw our support," he told Berita Harian.
Mr Ismail said that while all supreme council members acknowledged that matters regarding Umno retracting its support for the Perikatan Nasional government were decided during the 2020 general assembly, this did not mean that it had to be done now.
"We must act at the right time. Our view on support for the Prime Minister is still the same as before - we want to cooperate fully to fight Covid-19 on top of other issues involving the people," he said.
He added that the meeting clearly gave freedom to each Umno MP to state whether he supported Mr Muhyiddin or otherwise.
"So there shouldn't be an issue. In fact, the supreme council admitted that MPs can decide by themselves.
"Also, MPs' support for the Prime Minister can be voiced at any place and any time, not just in Parliament," he said.
On Thursday, Umno, the biggest party in the ruling Perikatan Nasional pact, announced it had resolved to withdraw its support for Mr Muhyiddin and called for the Premier's resignation.
Zahid said Mr Muhyiddin had failed to fulfil the conditions underlined by Umno when it backed him to become prime minister in March last year - namely, to spearhead economic recovery and effectively handle the Covid-19 pandemic.