PETALING JAYA: With speculation that the Umno supreme council will meet today, the main question being asked is whether party leaders will push for Umno to exit the Perikatan Nasional government despite the earlier failed attempts.
Sources said there was a possibility that the planned supreme council meeting might be called off after last night’s meeting between Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and representatives of the party’s MPs who insisted on remaining with the government for the time being.
Ahmad Zahid appears to be the main force pushing for Umno’s exit from Perikatan since the Umno general assembly in March.
Representatives of the 25 Umno MPs who want to remain with Perikatan now are scheduled to meet Ahmad Zahid to inform him that they would not agree with the party leaving Perikatan at this point, unless Parliament was dissolved, and that it would be irresponsible to do so now.
Checks with several Umno supreme council members revealed that none had received notice of a supreme council meeting planned to be held virtually today.
One of them, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is the Bera MP, said he had yet to get notice of any supreme council meeting.
Two others, Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, also said they had not received any such notice from Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan.
The supreme council meeting, if it does take place today, will be closely watched as two lists of names of Umno MPs are making its rounds on social media – one calling for Umno to stay on in the Perikatan government and the other demanding that the party exit the government tomorrow.
Umno sources said that there were now 25 MPs who want the party to remain with Perikatan until Parliament is dissolved, as agreed at the last Umno general assembly.
Thirteen Umno MPs are said to have signed, agreeing for the party to leave Perikatan.
Sources said they included a minister, deputy minister and deputy chief minister.
However, of the 13, some stated that they signed the list to inform Ahmad Zahid that they agreed that Umno should leave Perikatan but not on July 7.
So far, only Jerantut Umno MP Datuk Ahmad Nazlan Idris has publicly admitted to signing a statutory declaration (SD) for Umno to leave. The latter was reported to have said that he was prepared to try out a new government.
Another Umno MP also in favour of Umno exiting Perikatan said there was actually no such SD.
“It was just the president asking our opinion if we agree to leave Perikatan on July 7. Leaving Perikatan must be to the benefit of Umno, not anyone else,” said the MP who declined to be identified.
An Umno minister who preferred to remain anonymous said leaving Perikatan now would be to the detriment of Umno as the party would be seen as shirking its responsibility to the nation and “playing politics”.
“Umno ministers are among those in Perikatan who have been performing their ministerial duties diligently. Look at who is in charge of the Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme, Khairy Jamaluddin.
“As an Umno minister, can we afford to just leave Perikatan and disappoint the nation just like that, after all the hard work we have all done to boost Umno’s image?” asked the minister.
Ketereh MP and Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said most ministers who were currently helping to manage the pandemic situation and economic downturn in Perikatan are Umno MPs, adding that leaving Perikatan at this stage does not make sense.
“Those who insist that Umno should leave the Perikatan government because it has become unstable have failed to see that the instability only occurred when certain Umno leaders started to rock the boat.
“From the time Perikatan was formed, Umno was given top ministerial posts which is crucial to fighting the pandemic and the economic downturn.
“We were put in charge of defence, health, vaccination and economic matters. If we leave now, we are the one causing the failure of the government, not the other way round.
“Perikatan has yet to fail – it was Pakatan Harapan which clearly failed. We had to take over to save the nation.
“The question that those who insist that the Prime Minister must be changed, or that Umno can play a better role in Perikatan, refuse to answer is can Umno survive on its own, without Perikatan, Muafakat Nasional or Barisan Nasional?” he pointed out.
“Stop playing with fire, for in the end Umno will only burn itself when it leaves Perikatan and bring the government down. The people will curse us for good,” said Annuar, who has been publicly locking horns with Ahmad Zahid over the past few months.