PUTRAJAYA • Malaysia's ruling party Umno has expelled 16 members who filed a legal application to have the party dissolved, as they allegedly violated its constitution.
Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said yesterday the members' move clearly violated Clause 20.7 of the party constitution, which stipulates that any member who goes to court over party matters would automatically lose his membership.
"These 16 people are probably wolves in sheep's clothing, thorns in the flesh. If they want to betray the party, it is better that they are out," said Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan, according to national news agency Bernama.
"I have consulted our lawyers and all 16 have been expelled. I will issue the letters today," he told reporters at an event in Putrajaya yesterday.
The 16 members last Friday filed an application for a judicial review at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, claiming Malaysia's largest party had twice deferred its internal elections beyond the three-year limit imposed by its own constitution. The first applicant in the suit was Seri Merpati Pandan Indah Umno branch chief Salihudin Ahmad Khalid.
Mr Tengku Adnan said the members' allegations were baseless because he had asked the Registrar of Societies (ROS) for approval to have the party elections postponed to April next year. "If ROS had not given its approval, we would have had the party elections," he said.
The application comes just weeks ahead of the May 9 general election, and after the ROS had on April 5 temporarily suspended opposition party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia for failing to submit certain documents.
"The (political) opposition wanted a tit-for-tat," said Mr Tengku Adnan, as quoted by Bernama. "So, they cause all kinds of trouble."
Former Cabinet ministers Rais Yatim and Rafidah Aziz had earlier commented on the constitutional issue, asking if Umno could contest in the general election as a result.
Umno last held internal polls on Oct 19, 2013. The party, which leads Malaysia's ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, was first given leave last year by the ROS to postpone its polls to April 19 this year. In March, the ROS told Umno it could again postpone its polls, to April 19 next year.