KUALA LUMPUR: Kota Baru MP Datuk Zaid Ibrahim will not be allowed to resume his Umno division chief post once his suspension period ends in December.
Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the Kota Baru Umno division deputy will serve as acting chief until the next division elections.
“This will be a precedent for all other cases. It is an important ruling,” he said after chairing the Umno supreme council meeting yesterday.
He added that the decision on Zaid was final.
Zaid was found guilty of contempt of the disciplinary board last June 24 and slapped with a three-year suspension. He had criticised the board’s decision to issue him with a warning for money politics in the party elections. On Oct 8, the supreme council reduced his suspension to 18 months.
Yesterday’s meeting upheld the 18-month sentence. This means that deputy Datuk Fatmi Mohamed Saleh will continue as acting chief until the end of the term.
In explaining the rationale for the decision, Abdullah said if a suspended division chief was allowed to re-assume his post “mid-stream”, it could bring about instability in the party.
“He could try and exert his influence or something like that. That is normal in politics,” he said.
“We want stability and we want the leadership in the division to be given to the deputy until the next party elections. And Zaid can contest again if he wants to.”
Information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib told reporters later that the council felt it would be disruptive for the party if, when a new captain was leading, the old captain returned and took back the post.
“It may be good for the person concerned, but it is not good for the party. There should be continuity and certainty. If the (suspended) incumbent wants to come back, he can do so during the elections,” he said.
On whether this new ruling would be a disadvantage to a suspended incumbent, Muhammad said Umno’s concern was for the party, not the individual.
In the past, the practice has been that a division chief or committee member who had been suspended was allowed to return to his post after serving his suspension.
The Umno branch meetings will be held from June 17 to July 16, followed by the divisional meetings from Aug 3 to Sept 10. The general assembly will be held from Nov 13-17.
Discussions in the supreme council yesterday focused on the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
At the press conference, Abdullah said the council wanted the Government to give attention to addressing social ills in the Ninth Plan.
He said they also wanted to ensure projects meant for bumiputras did not leak to non-bumiputras.
On the question of lack of representation from Selangor in the Cabinet, Abdullah, who is Prime Minister, said the Shah Alam MP Datuk Aziz Shamsudin was the representative from Selangor.
When pointed out that Aziz was in fact from Perak, he said: “We cannot look at it that way. He is one of the MPs in the state, so he represents the state.”
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