LENGGONG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS) - Umno deputy chiefs have no right to question their superiors of the sources of funds used for elections, said the Malaysian party's vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He advised the deputies at division and branch levels to be loyal to the chairmen or suffer the same fate as the other deputies who were sacked.
He said this was the reality in Umno and the country.
"Let's say for a division chief, when it comes to obtaining a certain amount of allocation for the elections, be it from the central BN committee, Umno division or from sponsors, what is the right of the deputy to question the source of the funds.
"Ei, itu ketua bahagian punya pasal lah untuk menang pilihanraya dalam bahagian dia (that is the division chief's right to do in order to win elections)," he said at the Lenggong Umno division meeting here.
His comments came as tens of thousands joined a peaceful protest in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, bringing to the streets a political crisis over a multi-million-dollar payment made to an account under his name.
Malaysia's anti-graft agency has said the funds paid into Najib's account were not from state-owned investment arm, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), but a donation from the Middle East. The flow of money came just before a 2013 election, but the identity of the donor has not been revealed.
Najib, 62, says he did not take any money for personal gain. The Malaysian leader, who has denied wrongdoing, has weathered weeks of attacks since it was reported that investigators probing the management of debt-laden 1MDB had discovered the unexplained transfer of more than US$600 million (S$845 million).
Najib has sacked his deputy and other ministers who had publicly questioned him, and the attorney-general who was investigating 1MDB has been replaced.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, also Deputy Prime Minister, urged Umno leaders to work together to overcome internal conflict and confusion among party members.
"The real enemy isn't those outside of the party but within us.
"When confusion arises, leaders must step up and be straightforward in clearing the air and not cause further confusion," he said.
He also urged leaders to avoid being caught up with their emotions in the heat of conflict.
"If those who are below you are already emotional, you have to explain rationally why certain decisions were made," he said.