Umno says defectors will be dragged to court

KUALA LUMPUR • Umno will proceed with its legal action against lawmakers who defected from the party to join the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition after last year's general election, said its secretary-general Annuar Musa yesterday.

He denied a report by a news portal which quoted sources as saying that the Malay party will drop the lawsuit because of high legal costs.

"I would like to categorically state that the report is not true. I can confirm that all state representatives and MPs who have left the party will get legal letters soon," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

"The party has agreed to appoint a prominent law firm... (The defectors) will be dragged to court by Umno," he added.

When asked to reveal the legal costs involved, he said "that is not to be shared with the public".

Defections of politicians to other parties are not new as Malaysia does not have anti-hopping laws.

In the past, Umno has accepted defectors from other parties, most notably during the 2009 Perak crisis when it accepted four opposition assemblymen into its fold, which resulted in the toppling of the then Pakatan Rakyat state government.

Since last year's national polls, Umno has lost scores of elected representatives to PH, notably to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, although there are some who opted to remain as independents.

Umno has only 38 MPs in Parliament, after 17 of its federal lawmakers left the nationalist party.

There is also talk that Umno has been purportedly cash-strapped since the general election, after its accounts were frozen by the authorities following investigations into the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

Founded by then Prime Minister and Umno president Najib Razak in 2009, 1MDB is under probe in at least six countries for alleged money laundering and graft.

Civil lawsuits filed by the United States Department of Justice allege that nearly US$4.5 billion (S$6.1 billion) was misappropriated from 1MDB.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2019, with the headline Umno says defectors will be dragged to court. Subscribe