August 23, 2022
KUALA LUMPUR – The faction in Umno asking for an early general election has upped the ante on the Prime Minister by coming together to apparently now demand it.
Umno divisions were summoned to an emergency meeting yesterday “to discuss latest events in the party and country”.
Party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi chaired the meeting at the World Trade Centre KL.
The number of division leaders who attended could not be confirmed, although one leader who was present put the number at 158. Umno has 191 divisions.
Prime Minister and party vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who has kept his cards close to his chest as far as the timing of the general election is concerned, was not present at the meeting. It is learnt that he had official engagements to attend to.
It is also learnt that among the party’s leaders present were deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and vice-president Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
There was no official release to the media on the meeting as at press time.
Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan did not respond to text messages from reporters on the purpose of the meeting, but tweeted later to deny a viral message that the meeting was to heap pressure on Ismail Sabri to dissolve Parliament.
Sungai Besar Umno division leader Datuk Seri Jamal Md Yunos, who attended the meeting, told reporters that Ismail Sabri and fellow vice-president Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had other engagements to attend.
Jamal said the Umno division chiefs who were present were unanimous in calling for the 15th General Election (GE15) to be held “immediately”.
“This call by the (division) leaders is for the general election to be held at the earliest. This decision will be forwarded to the Prime Minister,” he added.
Asked whether the meeting was aimed at heaping pressure on the Prime Minister, Jamal said the matter will be handled by Umno’s top five leaders – the president, deputy president and three vice-presidents.
He claimed that the meeting, called at the 11th hour by Ahmad, was attended by 158 leaders.
“Initially, there was a lot of suspense as to why the meeting was being held. We were surprised by the last-minute call for a meeting, which began at 11am.
“It has been some time since we last met with the top leaders. We initially thought the meeting was about Parliament being dissolved, but that was not the case,” he said at the Menara Dato Onn lobby.
Jamal said the party leadership felt that rather than “wait for tomorrow, it is best to have GE15 now to show how serious the party is in facing it”.
Elaborating on the meeting, he said it included a briefing session on the party’s state of preparedness for GE15 and the readiness of the party machinery at the division level.
He also said division leaders conveyed their needs to the leadership and on what needed to be done for the general election.
Jamal denied that there was any discussion on the appeal of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Federal Court that resumes today, adding that “it was not brought up”.
In his tweet, Ahmad denied that pressure was placed on division chiefs to demand the Prime Minister call for GE15 at once.
He said this in response to a message that went viral on social media alleging this and linking it to Ahmad Zahid.
Ahmad attached images of the message with the word “Palsu” and “Fake”.
“I’m marking this infographic as fake because it is fake. No idea who is spreading it,” he tweeted.
The message claimed that all Umno division chiefs had been told by Ahmad Zahid to make the proposal to Ismail Sabri.
It also claimed that the proposal would be forwarded to Ismail Sabri and if the premier refused, he would be sacked from the party by the Umno supreme council.
Later in the evening, several top party leaders met with Ismail Sabri to discuss the latest developments in the party.