PETALING JAYA: Umno president hopeful Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic) has accused former Umno division leader Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan of lying about him "begging" to meet with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"Wabillahi Watallahi (an Islamic oath). I never begged and I did not ask to see Tun Dr Mahathir," said Zahid in a statement.
"What I said to Umno members was the truth," he said.
"Datuk Khairuddin, who accused me of being a liar, was the one who contacted and arranged the meeting with Tun Dr Mahathir," said Zahid.
Zahid also said that outsiders should not intervene and make assumptions on what he says on behalf of Umno.
He also told Utusan Online that he had asked Khairuddin to allow him to perform his Istikharah prayers before meeting Dr Mahathir.
Zahid told Utusan that he had wanted to seek guidance on meeting Dr Mahathir and would call Khairuddin when he was ready for the meeting.
But he claimed that Khairuddin went ahead to set up the meeting with Dr Mahathir.
Zahid, who has assumed the duties of Umno president, told Selangor Umno members on Wednesday night (June 20) that he did not ask to meet with Dr Mahathir earlier this month, but was invited by the Prime Minister.
In a video of his speech, Zahid was heard telling Umno members that Dr Mahathir had asked Umno members of parliament to join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi).
In response to Zahid's latest claims, Khairuddin issued an angry demand: "I challenge Zahid Hamidi to sumpah laknat (swear that he's telling the truth, or face damnation) while holding up the Quran in a mosque."
He accused Zahid of twisting and turning and maintained that it was him (Zahid) who had requested to meet with Dr Mahathir.
"He said he had (already) performed his Istikharah prayers for three consecutive days to receive guidance on his meeting with the Prime Minister," said Khairuddin, and that was why he set up the meeting between the two.
Khairuddin revealed that Dr Mahathir was actually reluctant to meet with Zahid because he has the tendency to spin facts.
"The Prime Minister totally (sama sekali) did not invite Zahid Hamidi, instead, the former deputy prime minister begged (merayu) to meet with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad," he said.
Khairuddin said that Zahid expressed his desire to support the Pakatan Harapan government "from the outside", and to work with the Government.
On Zahid's claim that Dr Mahathir had asked Umno parliamentarians to join Pribumi, Khairuddin labelled the accusation as a "baseless" claim.
Khairuddin also claimed that Zahid told him not to be too trusting about the political chess moves of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.
"But I maintained my stand that nobody should try to cause divisions among the leaders in Pakatan Harapan!" he said in his statement.
Khairuddin called Dr Ahmad Zahid a "desperado" and said that the Umno leader is willing to lie to win the seat of Umno president.
Khairuddin also vowed that what he says is the truth, and that he is ready to uphold his statement on the Holy Quran and at the mosque.