PETALING JAYA: Outspoken Umno Supreme Council member Nazri Aziz has endorsed Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s candidacy to head the party, and defended the acting president’s relative silence in the past month since taking over temporary leadership of the party from former president Najib Razak.
In a media interview today, Nazri said he would support Zahid to be Umno president and former minister Annuar Musa as deputy president, for the sake of the party’s unity, continuity and stability.
He defended Zahid’s low profile since assuming the duties of party president on May 11, saying it was still “too early” for Zahid to go on the offensive against Pakatan Harapan (PH), which now forms the federal government.
He noted that the new Cabinet appointments were still not complete, and Parliament had yet to convene, and it was sensible for Zahid to bide his time.
“What is there (for Zahid) to attack?” Nazri was quoted by Malay Mail as saying, when asked about the contrast between Najib’s frequent statements on social media rebutting government statements, particularly about the finances of the federal government.
He said Najib was making personal responses to government statements, particularly by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng. Najib was finance minister as well as prime minister in the previous government and also faces investigations into the affairs of 1MDB.
“He has every right to defend himself, as those in Umno are not aware of his cases, so he cannot expect party members to protect him,” Nazri said.
Umno holds its first party elections in more than three years on June 30, and nominations close today for all positions on the Supreme Council.
Zahid will face a challenge from Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, the longest-serving member of Parliament, who is the only other declared candidate for the presidency.
Former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar Mohamad Hassan has declared his candidacy for deputy president.