UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has denied making unilateral decisions for the party when it came to its candidates for the recent general election (GE15) and joining Anwar Ibrahim’s unity government.
While six of its 119 candidates had been changed at the last-minute due to ‘several considerations’, he said the remaining 113 were jointly agreed upon by the party’s top five and the respective state chiefs. The Top 5 refers to Zahid, his deputy Mohamad Hasan, and the three vice-presidents – Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Khaled Nordin and Mahdzir Khalid
“Was the move to field new faces as part of rejuvenating the party aimed at diminishing our chances of winning? Or was the attempt at reducing the perception that Umno was a party of warlords also aimed at reducing our chances of victory?
“I myself faced a prominent PKR leader in Bagan Datuk. Would I want to diminish my own chances of defending my seat?” he said in his policy speech at Umno’s general assembly at World Trade Centre here, today.
The Barisan Nasional chairman said Umno’s Supreme Council had jointly agreed to back Anwar as prime minister instead of forming the government with Perikatan Nasional.
He claimed that when Umno listed certain demands in negotiations with PN and Pakatan Harapan, PH had stated its immediate agreement while PN only said it was ready to consider them.
He said PN’s refusal to form a unity government at the King’s request was a factor behind Umno’s decision to back Anwar.
“Although (GE15 candidates had signed) agreements giving me the authority to negotiate (with other parties on) forming the government, (the Supreme Council) still made a joint decision based on deliberations. Once again, this is proof that the decision was jointly made. Those in the party’s leadership know how we reached that decision,” he said.
Zahid also said Umno opted for PH over PN since PH had won the most seats in GE15 with 82, compared to PN’s 73.
Acknowledging that some had taken jibes at him, citing his ‘No Anwar, no DAP’ declaration at the 2021 Umno general assembly, he reminded them that he had also said ‘No Bersatu’.