PUTRAJAYA • Six federal lawmakers from Umno announced yesterday that they have left the party, joining the recent exodus of MPs.
A letter signed by the six men to inform the Malay nationalist party of their departure was sent to Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa.
According to sources, the letter informed Umno that they were quitting effective yesterday.
The lawmakers were from Perak, Kelantan, Selangor, Terengganu, Johor and Penang. They joined the five of six Umno MPs in Sabah who quit on Wednesday.
Umno, which was the lead party in the Barisan Nasional coalition that governed Malaysia for 61 years until seven months ago, has been hit by a series of defections since it lost power at the May general election.
Umno won 54 federal seats in May - making it the party with the most number of MPs. But after defections in the last few months, including the five from Sabah, the number dropped to 43 on Wednesday.
And after the six MPs hopped away yesterday, Umno would be left with 37 MPs in Parliament.
The defections mean that two of the four parties in the ruling Pakatan Harapan alliance now have more MPs in the federal Parliament than Umno. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's Parti Keadilan Rakyat has 50 MPs and the Democratic Action Party has 42.
The defections mean that two of the four parties in the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance now have more MPs in the federal Parliament than Umno.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) has 50 MPs and the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party has 42.
Two of these former Umno MPs have joined Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), which now has 16 MPs.
On Thursday, Umno's former Puteri (Young Women) chief, Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, joined PPBM.
Tun Dr Mahathir has said that he is willing to consider the entry of former Umno lawmakers into his party, but that they must first abandon Umno and must not be implicated in past corruption cases.
Yesterday, another PH party - Parti Amanah Negara, with 11 MPs - said it was willing to accept former Umno lawmakers into its fold.
"If there are applications (to join us), we will discuss and decide on it. We are a democratic party," said Amanah president Mohamad Sabu.
Party-hopping is allowed under Malaysia's electoral system.
Meanwhile, former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, a lawmaker from Negeri Sembilan, yesterday called for an "immediate" party election to pick a new leadership following the exodus of lawmakers and other party members.
Mr Khairy retweeted and agreed with a post calling for Umno to hold an extraordinary general meeting for a new party election.
The initial tweet had called on the Umno supreme council and Youth and Women wings to demand the resignation of party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, seen by some as an ineffectual leader.
"Agreed. Immediate party election," Mr Khairy tweeted.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK