The online news portal said its sources had claimed that it was Hishammuddin that was leading the defections.
"It's definitely him. But he (Hishammuddin) doesn't have the guts to do it (quit Umno) himself.
"Just like he didn't have the guts to contest during the party elections.
"He preferred to stay on the sidelines like some 'Yoda' (a Star Wars guru) doing side deals with the government of the day," the source told Malaysiakini.
The online portal's source said this in reference to former Umno youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who had claimed on Twitter that there was a "bangsawan faction" (faction of aristocrats) that was leading the charge to trigger mass defections (Hishammuddin's grandfather had links to Johor royalty).
Earlier on Dec 12, nine of 10 Umno Sabah assemblymen, five of six MPs, 21 of 25 division heads and two senators announced a mass exodus from the party.
The source added that Hishammuddin was "taken for a ride by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad".
The report had another Umno party source claiming that perhaps he was trying to show Dr Mahathir that he was able to bring over other MPs.
The report claimed that Hishammuddin did these actions to demand a senior cabinet position or even for the deputy prime minister's role, as the former defence minister "really saw himself as a future prime minister".
The source had also accused him of intentionally shifting the attention to Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's weak leadership, adding that Hishammuddin wanted people to cross over for his own ambitions.
However, the report also cited another source which refuted such rumours, claiming that Hishammudddin only met up with other Umno MPs to give them support and to help Zahid prevent others from quitting.
The MPs who left Sabah Umno are Abdul Rahim Bakri (Kudat), Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun (Beaufort), Yamani Hafez Musa (Sipitang), Datuk Ronald Kiandee (Beluran) and Datuk Zakaria Mohd Edris (Libaran).
The assemblymen who quit Sabah Umno are Datuk Musbah Jamli (Tempasuk), Datuk Japlin Akin (Usukan), Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor (Sulaman), Datuk Ghulam Haidar Khan Bahadar (Kawang), Datuk Mohd Arifin Mohd Arif (Membakut), Datuk Isnin Aliasnih (Klias), Datuk Matbali Musbah (Lumadan), Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun (Karanaan) and Datuk Nizam Abu Bakar Titingan (Apas).
The two Sabah Umno senators are Datuk John Ambrose and Datuk Ghani Yassin.
Only Sungai Sibuga assemblyman Tan Sri Musa Aman and Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin did not follow the exodus.
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