PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir has come under pressure to “take leave” as president of Ansara, an NGO he has headed for more than 22 years.
The call for Mukhriz to step aside came from one of his former ardent supporters, Zakhir Mohamed, who is better known by his blogging nom de plume “Bigdog”.
Ansara is the association of former Maktab Rendah Sains MARA (MRSM) students and is reputed to be the biggest alumni body in Malaysia, given that thousands of Malay students have passed through the 47 MRSM colleges.
Zakhir made the call during Ansara’s annual general meeting on Sunday at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
However, Mukhriz rejected the proposal in his winding-up speech.
The former Kedah mentri besar is now with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia which has joined forces with the Opposition.
Zakhir, who spoke towards the end of the AGM, made a veiled critique of Mukhriz’s opening speech which asked Ansara to be the agent of change and to uphold integrity.
He said that Mukhriz was putting Ansara in a difficult situation now that he is a leading Opposition figure.
“Ansara tries to be apolitical but it has been our practice to be supportive of the Government which put us here. By wearing the Opposition hat, he has compromised the interests of our association,” said Zakhir.
He claimed he had received support from alumni members for speaking up.
“I received messages saying this was the right time for a change because he is no longer with the Government and that Ansara needs someone more dynamic,” said Zakhir.
Former Ansara vice-president Datuk Sazmi Miah, who attended the same MRSM as Mukhriz in Kelantan, said it was unnecessary for Mukhriz to resign because he had never used the association to make political statements or to attack the Government.
Sazmi said attempts to push Mukhriz out were politically motivated.
However, an Ansara member and CEO of a government-linked corporation said Ansara was closely associated with the Government and that ministers often attended its programmes.
He said members were right to be concerned about the future direction of Ansara under an Opposition figure.
However, he said that any move to remove the president should be decided by the members.