PETALING JAYA: Umno has announced a revamp of its top brass, with the surprise inclusion of former attorney general Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali in its supreme council.
Party insiders said his vast experience in legal affairs prompted Umno to rope him into the party’s highest decision-making body.
But in a brief statement late at night, Mohamed Apandi made a U-turn to reject the offer, just hours after he said that it was an honour to be appointed.
“After thinking about this thoroughly and deeply, I think it’s not appropriate for me to accept it.
“What plays in my mind is that my appointment will be mired by all sorts of negative perception that will be linked to whatever move and decision I made while I was a judge and the attorney general,” he said.
When taking up the position of AG in July 2015, he courted controversy as he was strongly linked to Umno with reports claiming that he once served as Kelantan Umno treasurer.
He denied the claim, saying that in his time as an Umno member from 1982 to 1991, the highest official position he held was that of Pengkalan Chepa division youth chief.
Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told The Star yesterday that the inclusion of Mohamed Apandi was necessary as “Umno needs someone with strong legal background and experience”.
He said Mohamed Apandi would be assisted by supreme council member Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who is the party’s legal head.
An official said his immediate task would be to claim the RM116.7mil seized by police in its raids at Pavilion Residences linked to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as part of investigations into 1MDB.
Mohamed Apandi is also expected to get to work on how to get the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to unfreeze the party’s bank account.
Kedah Umno Youth chief Datuk Shaiful Hazizy Zainol Abidin, in a statement, slammed the move to appoint Mohamed Apandi, saying it seemed a “desperate move.”
“Appointing this individual is not only a political mistake, it also shows severe weakness on the part of Umno with regard to creating internal talent to compete with the government,” he added.
Ketereh MP Tan Sri Annuar Musa is the new secretary-general to replace Putrajaya MP Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, who has been made treasurer.
Other senior office bearers are Lenggong MP Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah as information chief, and Datuk Mohd Sumali Reduan as executive secretary.
Dr Ahmad Zahid announced the shake-up in a statement yesterday.
The other 10 appointed members of the supreme council are Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun, Datuk Norliza Abdul Rahim, Shahril Sufian Hamdan, Nurul Amal Mohd Fauzi, Datuk Mohd Khusairi Abdul Talib, Datuk Johan Abdul Aziz, Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohamad and Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said that the appointments were the first step towards the renewal of the party “to remain relevant in the national political arena”.
The heads of all state liaison committees have also been replaced, with the exception of party deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan who has been retained to lead Negri Sembilan.
All three vice-presidents have been made state liaison chiefs but not for their respective states.
Former Rural and Regional Development minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is from Pahang, is now Selangor Umno chief; Kedah-born former Education minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid is now Terengganu chief while former Johor mentri besar Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin heads Perlis Umno.
Other notable appointees were former Communications and MultiMedia minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak as Sabah chief and former Second Finance minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani as Federal Territories chief.