Umno decisions in doubt after Registrar of Societies says leaders are party's 'caretakers'

Umno president Zahid Hamidi has threatened disciplinary action against MPs who refuse to abide by the party's decision last week to withdraw from the Muhyiddin administration.
Umno president Zahid Hamidi has threatened disciplinary action against MPs who refuse to abide by the party's decision last week to withdraw from the Muhyiddin administration.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - Umno's existing leaders are merely "caretakers", the Registrar of Societies (ROS) has said, casting doubt on the validity of recent decisions by Malaysia's largest party which include pulling support from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

The ROS, which regulates political parties and non-governmental organisations, said on Tuesday (Aug 10) that Umno "can only undertake basic administrative" functions, until it holds fresh elections, which were initially due on June 30.

"From the aspect of policy decisions, it must be brought to a general assembly as they are more of caretakers," ROS director-general Jasri Kasim was quoted as saying by Utusan Malaysia on Tuesday, referring to Umno's current office-bearers whose terms ended on June 30.

Umno president Zahid Hamidi has threatened disciplinary action against MPs who refuse to abide by the party's decision last week to withdraw from the Muhyiddin administration.

So far, Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob, recently elevated to deputy prime minister, still leads about two dozen Umno MPs who remain in government.

Umno's Supreme Council had decided on July 7 to postpone party polls by up to 18 months, citing the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. At the same meeting, it made the decision to reject Tan Sri Muhyiddin's leadership.

The ROS had said the Supreme Council's decision to postpone polls was invalid as it was made a week after its term had expired.

Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan responded that the postponement had been agreed via a circular resolution in June, and was merely affirmed in the minutes of the leadership's July 7 meeting.

Mr Jasri confirmed receiving a clarification letter from the party on Monday and said the registrar was now studying the new information provided.

However, he added that Umno, whose 38 MPs form the largest bloc in government, had yet to propose a date for a leadership contest.

He said the party polls must be held by the end of the year, as other societies have also held their elections despite the pandemic.

Umno's decision to pull its support leaves Mr Muhyiddin nearly 10 MPs short of a majority in the federal legislature. The embattled Prime Minister has said he will submit to a confidence vote when Parliament reconvenes on Sept 6.