Umno chiefs: Act on troublemakers

75% of division heads want Supreme Council action against leaders harming party: Poll

PETALING JAYA • More than 75 per cent of Umno division chiefs want its policymaking Supreme Council to act against party leaders whose statements and actions have damaged the party, according to an internal poll.

The poll was conducted via the Telegram chat group, with 154 of the 170 leaders in the group asking for action against recalcitrant leaders, The Star newspaper reported yesterday.

Umno division chief for Kapar in Selangor Faizal Abdullah said the poll did not specify the names of the troublemakers. But he did not deny that the recalcitrant ones the chiefs had in mind were Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin; one of its three vice-presidents, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal; and former party president Mahathir Mohamad.

"The overwhelming sentiment in the group was that enough is enough," said Datuk Faizal.

Umno has a total of 191 divisions. Each division represents a federal parliamentary constituency where Malaysia's biggest political party has a footprint. The division chiefs include Prime Minister Najib Razak, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and Tan Sri Muhyiddin.

Neither Datuk Seri Najib nor Mr Muhyiddin were part of the 170 chiefs in the Telegram group.

Datuk Sharkar Shamsudin, the administrator of the Telegram chat group and the head for Temerloh division in Pahang, said the ball is now in the court of the Supreme Council to take appropriate action.

"The Supreme Council will know what needs to be done when they meet," he said.

There is a widespread expectation that Mr Muhyiddin and Mr Shafie will be suspended.

This would prevent them from causing potential embarrassment at the Umno annual assembly in December.

This is because the party's deputy president traditionally gives a speech at the joint opening of the Women, Youth and Puteri (Young Women) meetings. And at the end of the assembly, the deputy president and the three vice-presidents are allowed to address the meeting.

Both Mr Muhyiddin and Mr Shafie have criticised Umno president Najib for his handling of the scandal involving state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad and the US$700 million (S$980 million) discovered in his personal bank accounts.

Last week, Mr Muhyiddin called Umno leaders "cowards" for not speaking up on these issues.

Said Mr Faizal: "There was heated discussion in our chat room. They were upset that Tan Sri Muhyiddin had called us cowards just because we don't agree with him and chose to support the president."

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Zahid said on Thursday that the ministry will take stern action against those plotting to topple the government, including using tough security laws.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2015, with the headline 'Umno chiefs: Act on troublemakers'. Subscribe