Umno must leave baggage behind, say 3 party leaders

Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa (left) and vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the focus must now be on the party, not Najib.
Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa (above) and vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the focus must now be on the party, not Najib.
Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa (left) and vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the focus must now be on the party, not Najib.
Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa and vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the focus must now be on the party, not Najib.

It is time to rebuild and not waste time getting involved in ex-premier Najib's trial, they say

KUALA LUMPUR • Three leaders of Umno have said that the party must forge ahead without its former president Najib Razak, as his corruption lawsuits would cloud plans to renew the opposition party.

Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa, vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin and a Kuala Lumpur division chief, Mr Johari Abdul Ghani, spoke just days after Najib failed to make an impact in a Selangor by-election despite leading the campaign and putting up his former aide as a candidate.

Former prime minister Najib was on Wednesday slapped with three charges of money laundering in court, linked to alleged inflow of millions of dollars into his personal bank accounts from SRC International, a former subsidiary of state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad .

This is in addition to three criminal breach of trust charges on July 4 and one for abuse of power that were also linked to SRC.

Tan Sri Annuar, a former Najib loyalist, said yesterday: "We must continue this journey. We are not going to wait. We are not going to waste our time defending Najib."

Mr Annuar was quoted as telling The Malaysian Insight news site: "We in Umno cannot carry this baggage forever. There must be a cut-off. It is entirely his (Najib's) responsibility."

Najib stepped down as Umno president three days after the Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition was toppled from power in the May 9 general election. He is the Umno Member of Parliament for Pekan constituency in Pahang.

He added that the focus must be on the party not on an individual.

"Najib is no longer the president of the party. To me, he is just a party member. Whether people support him or not, it is immaterial," Mr Annuar said.

Najib stepped down as Umno president three days after the Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition was toppled from power in the May 9 general election. He is the Umno Member of Parliament for Pekan constituency in Pahang.

Meanwhile, Datuk Khaled, one of three party vice-presidents, said Umno cannot move on if it allows Najib, a "man under trial", to get involved in its affairs.

"Yes, we should treat him with honour and respect, but we should move on from what has passed. It is Najib who is on trial, not Umno," said Mr Khaled in a statement yesterday.

Datuk Seri Johari, said it was a mistake to have allowed Najib to campaign in the Sungai Kandis by-election.

"We need to forget the era before the May 9 election. Umno has a new president and new leadership," said Mr Johari in a statement on Wednesday.

He is one of the party's 191 powerful division chiefs.

Their remarks differed from the stance taken by new Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Asked by reporters yesterday about Mr Annuar's comments, Datuk Seri Zahid said: "I hope he (Najib) is not hurt or affected by such opinions.

"I also hope that he won't feel emotionally distraught and undergo the court process with calmness and fortitude."

On Wednesday, Mr Zahid, when asked about the statement by Mr Johari, had responded: "For me, one should not stomp on someone when he is down."

The Umno candidate for the Sungai Kandis contest, Datuk Lokman Adam, was Najib's former communications director at the finance ministry.

Mr Lokman polled 38.1 per cent of the valid votes cast in last Saturday's polls, with Pakatan Harapan retaining the seat after its candidate Mohd Zawawi Ahmad Mughni received 61.4 per cent of the votes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2018, with the headline 'Umno must leave baggage behind, say 3 party leaders'. Print Edition | Subscribe