PETALING JAYA: Days after refusing to heed calls for him to step down as Umno president, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has decided to step aside and hand over his duties to his deputy.
He announced his decision late last night, weeks after mounting pressure calling for his resignation amid an exodus of Umno elected representatives, leaders and party members.
He said he made the decision because “Umno has to be saved from collapse”.
“For the sake of integrity in Umno and in the interest of the leadership at all levels, especially the MPs, the state assemblymen and at the divisions, urgent steps needed to be taken to save the situation.
“Due to the crisis faced by the party at the moment, I’ve decided to give my trust to deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan to take on the responsibilities of the president,” he said in a statement.
Ahmad Zahid said Umno grassroots members were hoping that the party leaders would steer the party in line with its new slogan of “Umno Bangkit” (Umno Rises).
“Umno can rise and rise fast if unity between the party is strengthened and that members think as a team in an empowered Umno,” he added.
Ahmad Zahid, who won the Umno presidency in a three-cornered fight on June 30, said his decision was also influenced by his concern that other Umno leaders might get the same treatment he was facing at present.
“I feel the anxiety that some Umno leaders might have, as I worry that they might receive the same pressure, probe and allegations I am going through,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid is currently facing a total of 46 charges – 11 counts of CBT involving RM20,833,733.69, eight graft charges amounting to RM21,250,000 and 27 money laundering charges amounting to RM72,063,618.15.
Days before, Ahmad Zahid said he would not bow to any pressure to resign, stressing that only the Umno general assembly could remove him from the post.
“Before this, the pressure was to go on leave, now the pressure is to resign … only the Umno general assembly can remove me. It must be attended by two-thirds of the delegates who attended the last general assembly,” he had said.
Calls for Ahmad Zahid to step aside or to take leave from his post have been made by several leaders in the party, including Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin, Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Youth chief Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki.
Six Umno MPs – Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin (Larut), Datuk Rosol Wahid (Hulu Terengganu), Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad (Mersing), Datuk Shabudin Yahaya (Tasik Gelugor), Datuk Mohamad Fasiah Mohd Fakeh (Sabak Bernam) and Datuk Seri Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz (Tanah Merah) – announced their resignation last Friday.
A few days earlier, Sabah Umno lost nine of its 10 assemblymen, five of its six MPs and 22 of 25 division chiefs.
Among those who quit were state party chairman Hajiji Mohd Noor and MPs Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee (Beluran), Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun (Beaufort), Datuk Rahim Bakri (Kudat), Yamani Hafez Musa (Sipitang) and Datuk Zakaria Edris (Libaran).
Source: The Star