Reports by Mazwin Nik Anis , Rahimy Rahim , Fatimah Zainal and Liew Jia Xian.
KUALA LUMPUR: Legal letters have been sent to former lawmakers who have abandoned Umno, says party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Speaking during his maiden presidential speech at Umno’s general assembly, Dr Ahmad Zahid said they are demanding for cost and also for them to vacate their respective seats won on Barisan Nasional’s ticket.
“They don’t have any moral standing as representatives. The seats belong to Umno. It belongs to supporters of Barisan Nasional,” he said to loud cheers and applause from the floor.
Five Umno MPs left the coalition post GE14 – the latest being Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (Jeli) and Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (Kimanis).
Umno has also agreed that all elected representatives sign an oath to vacate their positions and pay compensation if they quit the party.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said major changes are being planned for the party’s revival and comeback after losing federal power in the general election.
For one, the president’s tenure will be limited to two terms, in line with Dr Ahmad Zahid’s pledge during party polls in June.
State liaison committees will also be accorded with special powers in decision making especially with regards to machinery, budget, management and discipline matters.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said he was aware that some are questioning his silence and delay in determining Umno’s new direction.
“I am focusing on internal management of the party, especially to stop attempts to undermine it, including freezing our accounts,” he said.
It is a tradition among Barisan partners to send representatives to the opening of the assembly but aside from MIC president Tan Sri S.A. Vigneswaran, there was no one from MCA.
In a Facebook posting, MCA said it would not be sending a representative because the party wanted to focus on its own election and reforms.
MyPPP deputy secretary-general Datuk Simon Sabapathy also said his party could not send representatives because their leaders had an important meeting.
For the first time, PAS sent a delegation led by its deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.
In welcoming the guests, Dr Ahmad Zahid referred to them as “our new friends”.
To instil confidence in Umno, Dr Ahmad Zahid pledged to make the party corruption-free.
He said its disciplinary committee will be given more power and freedom to deal with money politics.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said there was no need for Umno to open the party to other races, adding that mutual cooperation with other multiracial parties as practiced by Barisan proved to be the best formula.
The president also addressed the issue of political cooperation, saying that Umno must work cohesively with other opposition parties to “fight the common enemy”.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also Barisan chairman, announced the rebranding of the coalition, which is at a final stage.
He said there would be changes in the pillar parties of Barisan which are Umno, MCA, MIC, MyPPP and PBRS.
There will also be associated parties, Barisan friendly parties, non-governmental organisations and direct membership where an individual can become a Barisan member without having to join any party.
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