PUTRAJAYA: Umno has lost six more MPs, leaving the party with only 37 lawmakers in the Dewan Rakyat.
They are Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin (Larut), Datuk Seri Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz (Tanah Merah), Datuk Dr Latiff Ahmad (Mersing), Datuk Rosol Wahid (Hulu Terengganu), Datuk Mohd Fasiah Mohd Fakeh (Sabak Bernam) and Datuk Shahbudin Yahya (Tasik Gelugor).
Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa was informed yesterday afternoon of their decision in a letter signed by all six.
Sources said the six would turn Independent MPs in the interim.
Hamzah is the most senior in the group, having served as a Cabinet minister under the Barisan Nasional administration.
Dr Latiff had served as Deputy Health and Deputy Defence Minister.
Hamzah could not be reached for comment, but he was quoted as saying that it had to do with Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s leadership issue.
The former Domestic Trade, Consumerism and Cooperatives Minister said Ahmad Zahid had failed to set the party’s direction and as such, he should step down.
“This also has to do with the court case that Zahid is facing, which has caused members and the people, especially Malays, to lose faith in his ability to lead Umno to face the next general election,” he was quoted as having said on behalf of the group.
A Malay daily quoted Ikmal Hisham as saying that his decision was made in the interest of the Malays and his constituents.
Rosol, who served Terengganu as state exco member and was the state Umno secretary, was quoted as saying he was not forced or pressured to leave but did so as it was difficult to carry out his duties as MP with no allocation from the federal government.
On Tuesday, there was an exodus from Sabah Umno comprising nine of its 10 assemblymen, five of its six MPs and 21 of its 25 division chiefs.
Former Sabah Umno chairman Datuk Seri Hajiji Mohd Noor, who led the exodus, said that claims that Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein was the strategist behind their departure were totally untrue.
“It was our decision and ours alone. Nobody else is behind it,” Hajiji said yesterday to clear the air on the continuing claims that Hishammuddin masterminded the move.
Former Sabah Umno secretary and ex-state Tourism Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, who was part of those who left, also said there was no mastermind behind their move.
“It was a unanimous decision among those who decided to leave Umno after much discussion. It was painful, but not a difficult decision.
“We will give ourselves about a month or so to decide our new political direction,” he said.