PETALING JAYA: Bowing to mounting pressure from within his party, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has announced his decision to step aside from his role of Umno president.
"Based on the struggle faced by the party today, I have decided to entrust the deputy president (Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan) the tasks of the president," he said.
He noted that the party's grassroots are hoping that the party's leadership will be united to redirect Umno in line with its new slogan 'Umno Bangkit' (Umno Rises)
"Umno can bounce back and rise again if it stays together and enforces its unity as an empowered team," Dr Ahmad Zahid said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is facing a number of graft charges in court, said that he felt the anxiety of some Umno leaders who are worried that they might feel the pressure, or be investigated with allegations he has faced.
"To strengthen the party, and in the interest of all, Members of Parliament and assemblymen, necessary measures need to be taken," he said in a statement released on Tuesday (Dec 18) night after a dialogue with party members in Kuala Lumpur.
He also expressed hope that all polemics on the party's leadership will be put to an end, and called on the party grassroots leaders to strengthen the party.
Dr Ahmad Zahid also called on MPs and assemblymen not to jump ship.
However, the Bagan Datuk MP did not mention that he would resign from his position in his party.
He held the position of president for less than six months, having won the post in a three-cornered fight at the Umno General Assembly at the end of June.
Prior to this, he was the party's acting president when former premier Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak stepped down from the post after Barisan Nasional's defeat in GE14 in May this year.
On Dec 15, Dr Ahmad Zahid said that he would not concede to the increasing calls by party members who wanted him to step down from the party position in the wake of the exodus of Umno MPs and assemblymen from the party.
He noted that he would abide by the party's rules and constitution which stated he could only be ousted based on a two-thirds majority during a special Umno General assembly.
On the same day, former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin called on Dr Ahmad Zahid to step down from his position.
"Step aside, sir. It's time," he tweeted.
Following the announcement by Dr Ahmad Zahid, the Rembau MP on Tuesday tweeted, "Did the right thing. Thank you, @Zahid_Hamid. (sic)"
Dr Ahmad Zahid has also been busy in court, having been slapped with 45 charges of money laundering involving RM72mil and criminal of trust, and accepting bribes involving RM42mil.
He claimed trial to all the charges.
Umno has been facing a steady decline in its elected representatives since GE14, when Barisan Nasional lost power.
Some 17 MPs and a number of assemblymen have left the party, citing a failure in leadership in the Umno.
The number of Umno MPs dropped from 54 seats to 37 seats, following the decision of these leaders to jump ship.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said Umno has filed a lawsuit against the parliamentarians who have left the party, stating that they won on the backs of “hardworking Umno members and machinery” and that they should be grateful for their victory, not hopping parties for their personal interest.
Below is the full text of Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's statement
1. Umno wajib di selamatkan dari rebah.
2. Akar-umbi amat mengharapkan pemimpin Umno bersatu hati untuk menterjemahkan halatuju Umno sesuai dengan slogan baharu 'Umno Bangkit'.
3. Umno boleh bangkit dan bingkas bangun semula jika perpaduan terus di mantapkan dan besatu permikiran dalam sebuah pasukan Umno yang diperkasakan.
4. Saya merasai keresahan segelintir pemimpin Umno keran khuatir mereka akan menerima tekanan, siasatan and tuduhan demi tuduhan seperti yang saya alami.
5. Demi keutuhan Umno dan demi kepentingan pimpinan di semua peringkat terutama Ahli-Ahli Parlimen dan ADUN-ADUN serta Umno Bahagian-Bahagian, langkah-langkah menyelamatkan situasi tersebut harus dilakukan segera.
6. Berdasarkan kepada kemelut yang dihadapi oleh parti hari ini, saya mengambil keputusan untuk memberi kepercayaan kepada Timbalan Presiden untuk menjalankan tugas-tugas sebagi Presiden.
7. Saya harap semua polimek mengenai kepimpinan ditamatkan dan saya mahu kepimpinan di peringkat akar umbi fokus memperkukuhkan parti.
8. Saya menyeru supaya tiada lagi tindakan keluar parti daripada Ahli-ahli Parlimen dan ADUN-ADUN.
Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi