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'Zahid’s support in Umno waning'
Published on: Saturday, February 17, 2024
By: FMT, Ameer Fakhri
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'Zahid’s support in Umno waning'
Umno grassroot members are unhappy with the leadership of party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, according to Ilham Centre’s Hisomuddin Bakar.
PETALING JAYA: Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s support within the party is waning further following his failure to secure a full pardon for Najib Razak, say analysts.

Ilham Centre’s Hisomuddin Bakar told FMT certain quarters only backed Zahid after he promised to work for Najib’s release from prison at the party’s general assembly last year.

He said Najib’s loyalists still romanticise his return, citing the “aura” he exudes among the party’s grassroot members.

On Feb 2, the Federal Territories Pardons Board announced that Najib’s prison sentence in the SRC International case had been commuted from 12 years to six and his fine reduced from RM210 million to RM50 million.

Hisomuddin said Zahid’s leadership has always been a source of discontent among Umno’s grassroots.

He said the Umno president’s purging of his critics and the decision to work alongside long-time arch enemy DAP in the unity government had drawn the disapproval of the party’s rank-and-file.

The party grassroots have also been left wondering about the party’s direction, he added.

“(This was) evident from the sway of votes towards PN (Perikatan Nasional) during the last state elections. And now he (Zahid) is seen as failing to deliver (on) his promise (to secure a full pardon for Najib).

“If the matter is not mitigated, more votes will go to PN soon,” said Hisomuddin.

On Feb 3, Umno released a statement saying the party respected the pardons board’s decision despite being left “saddened” by its refusal to grant Najib a full pardon.

FMT also reported that several division leaders had called for the party to pull out from the unity government during a special closed-door meeting.

According to Malaysiakini, 46 division leaders absented themselves from an explanatory session held by Zahid, with one reported as saying he was “not interested to hear (Zahid’s) explanation”.

Party secretary-general Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki later denied claims of calls for the party to exit the government. He said only 20 division leaders were absent due to short notice.

Meanwhile, Azmil Tayeb of Universiti Sains Malaysia said the “quick fix” for Umno, which has been bleeding support since the last general election (GE15), would be to have Zahid step down as the president.

“The party needs serious reform, starting with Zahid stepping down as president,” Azmil told FMT.

Azmil added that Umno should immediately leave the unity government so that it has enough time before the next general election to secure the return of members who left the party for PN.

“This is because being part of the unity government with its arch enemy DAP doesn’t sit well with the party’s rank and file,” he said

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