PETALING JAYA: Efforts are underway to convince Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to pledge support for Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister, says Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin.
The Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister said 40 Barisan Nasional MPs, in a recent undisclosed meeting, have signed statutory declarations (SDs) in support of Muhyiddin and Perikatan Nasional and efforts are underway to convince one more MP to support the government of the day.
However, the Padang Besar MP said Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was not persuadable, as the Umno veteran is adamant about not supporting Perikatan.
"We are still in the midst of negotiating. 'Ku Li' is out and we still have one (MP) more to go.
"It would be great if the Umno president (Ahmad Zahid) could support the government of the day.
"Our Deputy Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob) is also from Umno and that is why we should be in a pact," he told reporters during a press conference held at the Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister's Office on Tuesday (Aug 3).
Zahidi's remarks appear to contradict Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, who both denied news reports that claimed 40 Barisan MPs have signed SDs during a clandestine meeting held on late Sunday (Aug 1) night at Wisma Perwira.
Meanwhile, Zahidi, who's also an Umno supreme council member, said he will try to convince Ahmad Zahid into supporting Perikatan during the 4pm Emergency Supreme Council meeting later Tuesday.
Zahidi said it was a no-brainer for Barisan to contest in the general elections as the Opposition, given that backbencher parties will always have the advantage.
"If Barisan wants to face the elections as the Opposition, this is a new experience and we are afraid to lose.
"It's better to face the elections as the government rather than the Opposition."
On July 29, Ahmad Zahid called on the Umno MPs to retract support towards Muhyiddin as Prime Minister after the Perikatan government was given a royal rebuke over the revocation of the Emergency Ordinances.
Ahmad Zahid said all Umno MPs must execute the decision of the Umno Supreme Council working committee on July 7 to retract support for Muhyiddin as prime minister.
Ahmad Zahid is set to chair an Emergency Supreme Council meeting later at 4pm on Tuesday.
At present, Barisan Nasional consists of 37 Umno MPs, MCA (two), MIC (one) and PBRS (one), as Tengku Razaleigh moved to the independent bloc in the Dewan Rakyat.
Questions were also raised on whether or not Muhyiddin enjoys the support of 40 Barisan MPs, as Pekan MP Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and Machang MP Datuk Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub were vocal critics of Muhyiddin.