130 Umno division chiefs back Zahid

KUALA LUMPUR: Some 130 Umno division chiefs want party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to continue helming the party amid calls for his resignation.

The division chiefs from around the country held a “Solidarity for President” gathering at the Riverside Cafe next to the Umno headquarters at Menara Dato Onn here at about 3pm yesterday.

“We advise our friends who have doubts, concerns or are still deciding whether to support the president to return to the fold.

“We accept them with open arms.

“We want a united Umno, as we won only 26 seats.

“We will be facing a disastrous future if we do not unite,” Wangsa Maju division chief Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Shafei Abdullah told a press conference.

Acting as the spokesman for the group, he said 90 division chiefs attended the gathering, with 40 others expressing their support for Ahmad Zahid.

There are a total of 191 divisions in Umno.

Mohd Shafei also expressed regret that the MCA, MIC and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) had signed a no-confidence letter against Ahmad Zahid as Barisan chairman.

Ahmad Zahid arrived at about 3.

45pm to meet the division chiefs before leaving about half an hour later without speaking to the media.

In the just-concluded GE15, Barisan Nasional won 30 seats.

Apart from Umno’s 26, the rest were from MCA (two seats) and one each from MIC and PBRS.

It was Barisan’s worst electoral performance, resulting in calls from a number of Umno leaders for Ahmad Zahid’s resignation.

They included Khairy Jamaluddin, Tan Sri Noh Omar, Shahril Hamdan and Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi.

Meanwhile, a separate group calling themselves “President Supporters” earlier gathered outside Menara Dato Onn at about noon.

The group, led by political and economic analyst Datuk Dr Ramalan Yunus, said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had expressed his wish to see a unity government, which should be respected by all parties and the rakyat.

“It’s beyond politics now and up to the King and Malay Rulers to decide.

We have the Rukun Negara, where the second tenet states that we should be loyal to the King.

“I call on all groups who are protesting to stop the anti-campaign against Ahmad Zahid and respect the decision of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” he said, adding that the group comprised Umno grassroots members.

Meanwhile, earlier yesterday, PBRS deputy president Datuk Arthur Joseph Kurup said any decision made by Barisan to form a stable government must be endorsed by all parties.

In a statement, he also said the party took note of the latest decision by the Umno supreme council to support and take part in a unity government not led by Perikatan Nasional.

“PBRS will abide by whatever decision made by Barisan in the interest of a stable government,” he said.

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