Umno denies power tussle behind charter proposals

Umno officials Mohamad Hasan (left) and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in a 2018 photo. Zahid, the party's president, is on leave after being charged over various offences, and Datuk Seri Mohamad is the party's acting president. PHOTO: BERNAMA
Umno officials Mohamad Hasan (left) and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in a 2018 photo. Zahid, the party's president, is on leave after being charged over various offences, and Datuk Seri Mohamad is the party's acting president. PHOTO: BERNAMA

Party says plans to disqualify leaders convicted of crimes not aimed at certain individuals

KUALA LUMPUR • Umno's acting president Mohamad Hasan said proposed amendments to the party's Constitution are not aimed at ousting some leaders or at preventing their comeback.

He was responding yesterday to news reports about planned amendments that would disqualify leaders convicted of crimes from taking up party posts.

The move to make the charter changes has raised speculation that the party now led by Datuk Seri Mohamad wanted to oust president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is on leave from his position, and to block tainted former president Najib Razak from again taking up a top post.

Both Zahid and Najib are facing multiple court charges, including over abuse of power, money laundering and corruption.

"The question of removing anyone from their positions in Umno through amendments to the party Constitution does not arise," said Mr Mohamad, who is carrying out the duties of Zahid.

"There is no attempt at pushing out anyone," he was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.

STATUS QUO

There is no attempt at pushing out anyone.

UMNO'S ACTING PRESIDENT MOHAMAD HASAN

Umno vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin also denied that the proposed constitutional changes were aimed at certain individuals, or that there is an internal power struggle, Malay Mail online news reported yesterday.

Umno president Zahid, facing an internal revolt over his weak leadership soon after taking over from Najib in May last year, had to temporarily vacate his position and allow Mr Mohamad to step in as acting president.

 
 
 

There has been speculation in recent weeks that Zahid wanted his old position back.

His critics want him to step down and hand over the party to Mr Mohamad.

And in the meantime, Najib has become the most popular Umno leader today despite his multiple court cases linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal.

This has caused uneasiness for some in the party, which is keen to start over again with a clean slate.

Najib remains an MP and is the long-time division chief for Pekan in Pahang, positioning him well should he aim for a comeback to a senior party position, due to his current popularity on the ground.

Mr Mohamad yesterday said the head of the constitutional amendment committee, Datuk Seri Khaled, was appointed by Zahid himself. Mr Khaled is compiling responses from all states on the proposed changes, and this will be discussed by the top policymaking body, the Umno supreme council.

The matter will later be brought for debate and approval at a special session during the party's annual assembly in November.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2019, with the headline 'Umno denies power tussle behind charter proposals'. Print Edition | Subscribe