KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi expressed regret today over the resignation of two senior party members, saying their reasons given were inexcusable.
He suggested that both Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and Datuk Seri Anifah Aman Kimas had cited weaknesses in Umno as a cover-up of their own “personal agenda” when they decided to quit.
“In this situation, I want to state that those actions are inexcusable especially when they have been elected by the people and on Umno’s trust.
“Using party weakness as an excuse for personal agenda is not something that should be done,” Ahmad Zahid said in a statement, minutes after Anifah confirmed his resignation from the party.
He chided Jeli MP Mustapa — popularly known as Tok Pa — and Anifah who is Kimanis MP for leaving Umno when the party “is being tested”, reminding them of Islam’s teachings which they as Muslims should follow.
“Islam teaches us to be loyal as long as we don’t violate any of its tenets,” he said.
“Regardless, in such a scenario, Umno accepts their decision and we respect it. We wish them all the best. May their decision give them self-satisfaction,” he added.
Ahmad Zahid, a former deputy prime minister, urged Umno members to close ranks ahead of their party general assembly end of this month.
“Umno needs party loyalists to survive,” he said.
Anifah is the fifth MP to quit Umno, right on the heels of Mustapa, which leaves the once long-ruling Malay nationalist party with 49 federal lawmakers, the same number as rival PKR.
Others who have left after the May 9 general election that ousted Barisan Nasional from power are: Masjid Tanah MP Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, Bukit Gantang MP Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal, and Bagan Serai MP Datuk Noor Azmi Ghazali.
The latest top-level departures have exposed the cracks in Umno as its leaders engage in public spats on the party’s future direction.
In the latest, the party’s former Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin suggested in a Twitter post today that Umno was burying its head in the sand instead of tackling its challenges head on.