A former Kedah executive councillor and several Umno division chiefs today announced they were leaving the party, dealing yet another blow to the former ruling party in the wake of the recent exodus of its MPs.
Mohd Rawi Abd Hamid, who lost the Ayer Hangat state seat in Langkawi in the May general election, was joined by seven Umno division chiefs.
Rawi today described Umno a “sinking ship”.
“It is like being a crew member on a 60-year-old ship. We are custodians of the cargo on the ship, which is the rakyat, but the vessel has become rotten and started to sink. At this point, I must protect the cargo on my ship,” he told a press conference at a hotel in Alor Setar.
It is believed there are about 500 party members in the seven divisions.
Rawi said it was useless for Umno members to remain in the party after its general election defeat.
He claimed more in Kedah would leave Umno.
In recent days, Umno has seen a steady outflow of its MPs. Last week, 10 MPs quit the party, in a blow to Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Zahid has since handed over his presidential duties to his deputy Mohamad Hasan.
Rawi, an Umno member for 28 years, said he had to do the “right thing” despite objections from family members.
“I know many will support my move and at the same time I will anger some. But for the sake of fighting for the rights of Malays and Muslims, I am willing to do anything.
“And if the party that supports Malays and Muslims like Umno has weakened and failed to meet its goals, then I think it is time for us to leave.”
Ayer Hangat assemblyman quits Umno
7 division leaders: Former Kedah exco member Datuk Mohd Rawi Abd Hamid, together with seven branch heads, has announced his departure from Umno.
Mohd Rawi has been Ayer Hangat assemblyman for two terms and deputy branch chief for one term and lost the Division Chief post to Datuk Ahmad Nawawi in recent polls.
In a press conference today, Mohd Rawi was accompanied by Langkawi Puteri vice-head Nur Aini Ahmad Ridzuan, Padang Lalang Election Centre chief Abdul Razak Mohd Rafie and Kampung Teluk Branch head Mohd Saiful Mustafa.
Mohd Rawi said he already thought it through for the sake of Malay and Islam because it was not an easy decision to make after all the struggles with Umno since 1990.
He said the group wanted to be the first to announce its departure from Langkawi Umno and hoped it should encourage others to follow suit.
“I know many will support and there will be some who will get angry, but the battles for Malay and Islam must continue and if the driving force is weak, it’s time we move.
“It’s like I was entrusted with a package on board a 60-year-old ship. There are too many things that made it difficult for the ship as it was too old and decaying. I have to put the package as my priority.
“If a new ship offers me a place on board, I have to make a wise choice for the sake of the package. That’s why I’m leaving Umno today,” he said.
Asked whether he would join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), Mohd Rawi said he hasn’t decided yet as he wants a party that is in line with the struggles of Malay and Islam.
“The party I would choose should fight for the sake of the race, religion and nation, and it should also have a clear direction,” he said.
Meanwhile, when asked to elaborate that the Langkawi Umno division has an estimated 17,000 members, Mohd Rawi said that claim was nothing more than merely numbers which does not reflect the reality of the party’s membership in the division.
“Let the Kedah Umno leadership say whatever they want on what is taking place (party hopping) is a clean-up process … is it truly reflective of that … If it’s true that Langkawi Umno division’s membership is that many … where did it go in the general election. This clearly shows that Umno had lost some 50 per cent of its members’ votes in Langkawi until it lost all the seats,” he said.