‘Accept responsibility and resign’

Media interest: Noh talking to reporters after announcing his resignation in Kuala Lumpur. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Prominent leaders of Umno have joined growing calls for Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to take responsibility for Barisan Nasional’s crushing defeat in the 15th General Election (GE15) by resigning as the coalition chairman and party president.

Selangor party veteran Tan Sri Noh Omar resigned from his state leadership position effective yesterday and also called on Ahmad Zahid to quit.

Speaking to reporters after attending the party’s political bureau meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Noh said he decided to relinquish the position because Ahmad Zahid had seemed to have lost faith in him.

Noh was dropped as a candidate for the Tanjong Karang parliamentary seat in GE15 and replaced by the constituency’s Umno division Wanita chief, Datuk Habibah Mohd Yusof, who lost to Perikatan Nasional’s Kapt (R) Datuk Dr Zulkafperi Hanapi.

Noh added that he was not offended for being dropped as a candidate as he had been the Tanjong Karang MP for six terms but was hurt by the way he was dropped.

“As the state liaison chairman, I had not been summoned for any discussion and was just dropped like that as a candidate,’’ he said.

Noh said he, too, had lost confidence in Ahmad Zahid and urged him to resign as party president, like what Datuk Seri Najib Razak did following Umno’s poor performance in the 2018 general election.

“Let a new person lead Umno,’’ said Noh, adding that Ahmad Zahid’s performance in GE15 was also not up to par with his party position.

Ahmad Zahid obtained 16,578 votes to narrowly beat his main contender, Pakatan Harapan’s Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mat Akin, with a paper-thin majority of 348 votes.

Noh said he was still a party supreme council member and would attend the council meetings but since he had relinquished his position as state chief, he would no longer be attending the political bureau meetings.

Former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin posted on social media: “Onn Hafiz and Shahril have done the right thing. Now senior leaders must follow.”

He was referencing quit calls to Ahmad Zahid by Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi and the party’s former information chief Shahril Hamdan.

Khairy, who failed to snatch the Sungai Buloh seat from Pakatan Harapan in GE15, said senior leaders should not watch idly by while the country’s future was being pawned off.

Earlier yesterday, Shahril resigned as Umno information chief and urged Ahmad Zahid to step down as well.

“I am of the opinion that the Umno president and Barisan chairman has to set an example by taking responsibility for this defeat by stepping down with dignity.

“Let the leadership and other individuals lead discussions to make the next big decision for this party,” Shahril said in a statement.

He lost the Alor Gajah seat after obtaining 27,288 votes against Pakatan Harapan’s Adly Zahari 28,718 votes and Perikatan’s Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Yusof’s 17,211 votes.

Former Cabinet minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said those who went against the Umno general assembly resolutions and contributed to the loss of the party in GE15 must accept the responsibility for their failure and step down from their positions.

Calling himself as the Muafakat Nasional NGO president, Annuar, who was dropped from the Umno candidate list for Ketereh in GE15, took veiled attacks, believed to be against Ahmad Zahid, in a series of Facebook posts immediately after the results were announced on Nov 19.

Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur, a group of disgruntled Umno grassroots leaders gathered at the Umno headquarters at Menara Onn at about 4pm yesterday and began chanting loudly for Ahmad Zahid to resign.

“Undur, Zahid, undur, undur. (Bow out, Zahid, bow out, bow out).

“No Anwar, no DAP,” the group chanted.

Later, a group of Red Shirts supporters arrived at the lobby and also chanted the same.

The movement’s information chief Ariffin Abu Bakar warned that the Red Shirts would take to the streets if the Umno president refused to resign.

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