The Umno Supreme Council is expected to make a decision on whether it will withdraw its support for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government at a meeting tonight, Utusan Malaysia reported today.
According to the report, tonight’s meeting has been called to resolve disagreements over the matter among the party leadership.
The decision tonight will determine the direction of the party that is currently a component party that supports the PN coalition up until today.
The meeting is also believed to be response to the 14 day period given by the government to reconvene Parliament in the nearest time.
“Whether they want to or not, Umno has to decide tomorrow (today). For sure it will discuss the direction of the party and the PN government whether Umno will remain or leave,” the Malay daily quoted a source.
According to the source, the decision that is expected to be made will be more inclined towards achieving unity as Umno party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is seen as trying to prevent a split within the party.
The decision will also take into account the views of MPs who are more inclined to stay with the PN government until the election is held.
“Zahid called the MPs yesterday because he wanted to know their stand.
“Then their stand will be taken to the Supreme Council meeting, so it will be up to them to decide,” the source said.
It was reported yesterday that a group of Umno MPs were present at a meeting at the Wisma Perwira Angkatan Tentera Malaysia, to focus on the issue of whether or not the party will leave the PN government.
It is however understood that there was a disagreement among the MPs who were present at the meeting.
Zahid was with the view that it is time for Umno to leave the government, while a portion of the MPs led by Umno’s Bera MP Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob did not agree with the view.
That view (to leave the PN government) was agreed to by Umno’s Kuala Krau MP Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamad Said, Tanjong Karang MP Tan Seri Noh Omar and Pasir Salak MP Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman.
“Noh Omar viewed that now is not the time to pull out as Parliament has yet to resume.
“Tajuddin on the other hand said before this we have done all sorts but it never succeeded. Previously there were things we did not agree with the president, but we still followed, all kinds of problems arose,” said the source.
The promotion of Umno ministers Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein today is believed to be deliberately done prior to a decisive Umno Supreme Council meeting tonight, sources have said.
Several sources close to Umno top leaders accused the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government of appointing Ismail as deputy prime minister and Hishammuddin as a senior minister to influence Umno against leaving the coalition’s government.
“Majority of the Supreme Council members have agreed with president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to leave PN,” said an anonymous source, referring to the Umno president.
“There is another group who supported the PN are doing this on purpose.”
Meanwhile another source who is himself in the Supreme Council echoed the sentiment, saying there are groups of “Umno MPs” behind the decision to appoint the duo.
“The Umno MPs are trying to preempt the council’s decision, but the call to quit PN is practically decided,” said the source who did not want to be identified.
Meanwhile, Free Malaysia Today reported another Supreme Council member Datuk Ahmad Puad Zarkashi as saying Ismail and Hishamuddin should have rejected the post in order to toe the party’s decision.
“Why was this appointment not discussed with the Umno leadership? The Supreme Council has decided in Janda Baik that Umno put a ‘full stop’ on the deputy PM issue.
“Supposedly, Ismail Sabri must obey or consult the party first because this is the decision of the council,” he said as quoted by the portal.
Hishammuddin and Ismail Sabri have since thanked Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for their appointments, with the latter signing a statement this evening as a deputy prime minister.
Meanwhile, political analyst Oh Ei Sun suggested that if the Supreme Council still decides to leave PN, then the duo should leave the party if they wish to keep their new posts.
“Will it come down to the supreme council going against Zahid, or Ismail and Hishammuddin forced to choose sides, which means they would have to quit Umno should they choose to accept the posts,” the principal adviser for Pacific Research Center Malaysia told Malay Mail.
Malay Mail is seeking additional comments from Zahid, Ismail Sabri, Hishammuddin, and other Umno Supreme Council members over the matter.
In a statement today, the Prime Minister’s Office said that the appointments have been presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and take effect immediately.
Both Ismail Sabri and Hishammuddin will still retain their initial portfolios as defence and foreign affairs minister respectively.
On Monday, Zahid attended a discreet meeting hosted by Ismail at Wisma Perwira at the Ministry of Defence.
This followed another meeting earlier that day where sources told Malay Mail that Zahid and former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak met with several Umno Supreme Council members to gain support to pull out of PN but the proposal was rejected by those who attended the meet.