Zahid: Let the delegates decide on top two posts


Strong support: MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (centre) sharing a light moment with Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (right) while Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) deputy president Datuk Arthur Joseph Kurup looks on during the Umno general assembly 2022 at World Trade Centre. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Amid differing views on whether Umno’s top two posts should be open to contest, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he will leave the decision to the delegates attending the general assembly.

“Some want the president and deputy president posts not to be contested while there are those who believe otherwise.

“As someone who believes in the democratic process, I leave it to the delegates to determine this,” the party president said in his presidential address at the opening of the Umno general assembly here yesterday.

“I am confident that Umno members can differentiate between diamond and glass. As the young would say, which is ori (original) and which is fake,” he added.

The subject has dominated discussions in the run-up to the assembly, with those opposing a contest saying that it would preserve harmony within the party and those calling for a contest to uphold the democratic process.

Former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin has described efforts to prevent a contest for the top two posts as “madness”.

Party polls are to be held before May 19, in accordance with the amendment to the Umno constitution which allows elections to be held six months after the general election.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Zahid said a full disclosure must be made in the findings of former attorney general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas’ memoir.

He welcomed the government’s decision this week to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on My Story: Justice in the Wilderness.

“Our iron lady, Datuk Seri Azalina (Othman Said), is leading the institutional reform agenda, and this needs to be done quickly. She has fulfilled it too. We have brought reforms to the legal system. I congratulate her because an RCI into (the memoir of) Tommy Thomas has been approved by the Cabinet,” said Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister.

Azalina is the Law and Institutional Reform Minister.

“All information, documents and secret agendas must be uncovered. Aza, this is your responsibility.

“If you fail, Umno will fail. If you succeed, the party will reward you,” added Ahmad Zahid.

In announcing the RCI on Jan 11, Azalina said the decision was made following recommendations by the special task force set up by the Cabinet to undertake a preliminary study of disclosures in the controversial book.

She had said the RCI would focus on finding recommendations to reform the country’s legal institution and was not to find faults with any particular party.

The task force was set up on Oct 8, 2021, and its report was issued on Sept 30 last year and tabled before the Cabinet.

Chaired by Sarawak legal adviser and former state attorney general Datuk Seri Fong Joo Chung, it identified 19 important issues in the book that required the government’s attention.

Thomas’ book published in 2021 was widely criticised for allegedly containing elements of incitement, insults and defamation. More than a hundred police reports were lodged against it.

Thomas was the attorney general under the Pakatan Harapan government from June 2018 until February 2020 when the administration collapsed.

On a separate matter, Ahmad Zahid said the party also wanted a forensic audit on the use of government funds by the previous government.

“We, the delegates, want those who are hiding ‘under the carpet’ to be investigated and action to be taken against them.

“Previously, they labelled us as the court cluster, let’s see who will be the court cluster now,” he said.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has started investigating the use of RM92.5bil for Covid-19 stimulus packages by the Perikatan Nasional government led by Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

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