PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Umno should hold its internal party polls as soon as possible to resolve an "internal crisis" brought about by infighting between two factions, said its former Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.
Mr Khairy, who is a Cabinet minister in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, said the Umno election should not be postponed until after Malaysia's general election, which is widely expected later this year.
"There is only one way to resolve the internal crisis in Umno, expedite the party polls. Don't postpone it until after the general election.
"The party polls should have been held this year," he said in a Instagram story posted on Tuesday (March 30).
Political observers have noted that Umno is currently split between one faction led by party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and another by its former secretary-general Annuar Musa.
Zahid and the party officially declared at its annual assembly over the weekend that the party has decided to sever ties with PM Muhyiddin's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and that Umno is willing to face the next GE on its own.
Among those in the Zahid faction who are keen to break ties with PN is former Umno president Najib Razak, who continues to wield influence in the party.
Meanwhile, Tan Sri Annuar, who is also a Cabinet minister in the PN government, is urging for Umno to stay in the PN coalition.
Among those who favour continued cooperation with PN is former Umno vice-president, Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
They want Zahid and those deemed as the "court cluster" - Umno leaders who face ongoing court cases for graft - to step aside and allow others to lead the party for fear of voter rejection at the GE.
Mr Khairy, the Science, Innovation and Technology Minister, said on Tuesday that Umno must head into the GE with a leadership that is able to obtain a clear mandate to lead and is able to garner support from the general public.
"Expedite the party polls. Do the right thing, supreme council. You know we cannot continue like this," he added. The supreme council is Umno's top decision-making body.
Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan said during the general assembly that the party plans to hold its internal election this year, if the general election isn't called.
He said there are plans by Umno to hold its branch elections in August. Two months after this, he said, Umno is planning to hold polls for its 191 divisions and for central leadership positions.
The chairman of Umno's selection committee for its internal election told Malay daily Sinar Harian that it is keeping a close watch on the events leading up to the end of Malaysia's Emergency Proclamation on Aug 1.
Umno has 3.35 million members as at last Friday and was due for a party election last year, but it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw spikes in infections at the end of 2020 following the Sabah state election.
Meanwhile, a group of Umno leaders who are in Cabinet ministers met with PM Muhyiddin on Monday at his official residence, a day after Zahid and Umno declared the break up with Bersatu.
"Ministers and deputy ministers from Umno will abide by the resolution made during the last supreme council meeting, which is to be part of the Perikatan government until the dissolution of the Parliament," said Mr Annuar, the Federal Territories Minister, when contacted by The Star.
All eight full ministers from Umno and eight deputy ministers have decided to remain with the PN government, which is led by Bersatu, until August, Malaysiakini news site reported, quoting deputy minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin.
Datuk Zahidi said he did not attend the meeting with Tan Sri Muhyiddin but that the Umno deputy ministers were told of meeting's outcome.
"We were informed by the ministers that we will remain in the government until August under our individual capacity," Mr Zahidi told Malaysiakini when contacted.