PETALING JAYA: Their exit from Umno was shocking and swift but their path back is filled with obstacles.
Six MPs who quit Umno in December but who are now purportedly interested in coming back will not find their return all that smooth, due to opposition in their former party.
While Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said that Umno’s doors are open to all who want to join, Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi issued a reminder that Umno must take into account the views of members who are against allowing the six back in.
The six MPs are Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin (Larut); Datuk Rosol Wahid (Hulu Terengganu); Datuk Abdul Latiff Ahmad (Mersing); Datuk Shabudin Yahaya (Tasik Gelugor); Datuk Mohamad Fasiah Mohd Fakeh (Sabak Bernam) and Datuk Seri Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz (Tanah Merah).
Talk has been rife over the past few days that the six who quit to become independent MPs are planning to return to Umno.
It was reported that the six have held discussions with Mohamad and the party’s Council of Advisors chairman Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
Mohamad said he had personally not received any application from the six MPs to rejoin.
“We are open to accepting anyone who wants to be a member based on provisions in the party’s constitution,” said Mohamad, who is carrying out the duties of the president.
The six quit Umno on Dec 14, the most recent in a spate of resignations of MPs from Umno since the May 9 general election.
To date, 17 MPs from Umno have left, leaving the Opposition party with 37 MPs in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat.
Their departures were roundly criticised by many Umno leaders and members.
Two of the 17 Umno MPs who quit have also been served with lawsuits.
They are Masjid Tanah MP Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin and Bagan Serai MP Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, the party organ Umno online reported yesterday.
The Star on Dec 16 reported that the six resigned as a result of a proxy war in Umno between two groups in the party – one in support of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister and the other which wants to see Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim move up.
Hamzah, a former Domestic Trade, Consumerism and Cooperatives minister, is said to be the leader of the pro-Mahathir group while the pro-Anwar group is headed by party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
One of the six who quit the party, Hamzah, acting as their spokesperson, called for Ahmad Zahid’s resignation, saying he had failed to set the party’s direction.
Four days later, Ahmad Zahid announced his decision to go on leave.
The party’s management committee then decided that Mohamad would carry out the duties of the party president.
Commenting on the possibility of the six rejoining Umno, Asyraf said the applications must in the end be endorsed and accepted by the supreme council.
“However, we must also take into account sentiments and views of the party grassroots,” he said.
Asked whether he felt that there were those in Umno who were against allowing the six to rejoin, Asyraf agreed.
Pressed on whether there were discussions being held between some of the party leaders and the six on the possibility of bringing them back to Umno, Asyraf said:
“We cannot make decisions without referring to the party constitution, and we must also take into account sentiments on the ground.”
Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman said news about the six wanting to rejoin Umno should be considered as speculation for the time being.
“So far it’s just hearsay, let’s wait to see whether its true.
“People have views both for and against the six rejoining, but I want to know for sure whether they want to come back,” said Tajuddin.
Tajuddin said anyone who applies to become an Umno member must have his or her application endorsed by a branch leader.
The application is then submitted to the respective division for approval before being submitted to party headquarters.
“Umno has a membership committee and a management committee which will then study each application. You can’t just immediately be accepted into the party after applying,” said Tajuddin.