PETALING JAYA: Former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar Isa Samad has hit out at his former party Umno for sitting out the Port Dickson by-election, saying its reasons for doing so are “flimsy and unreasonable”.
In an interview with FMT, Isa, who quit Umno last week to stand as one of the six candidates against PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim in Port Dickson, said he was contesting the by-election because Umno would not. He said if the party had decided to contest, many of its members would have helped its candidate challenge the present government.
“We must remember, we are the opposition. Umno has been training its members for the opposition role, and this is the best time to put them to the test but they don’t want to.
“The reason given is that they disagree with the manner in which the by-election was triggered. Surely just because we don’t agree doesn’t mean we don’t contest. That’s a flimsy and unreasonable excuse,” he said.
The former Umno warlord also criticised the party’s decision to skip the by-election on the basis of the incumbent’s resignation, saying Danyal Balagopal Abdullah had not breached any laws in stepping down to make way for Anwar.
He said this was why he had decided to participate in the by-election which will see him go up against the PKR president-elect, PAS’ Mohd Nazari Mokhtar and independents Stevie Chan, Kan Chee Yuen, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan and Lau Seck Yan.
Given the presence of Umno’s rivals, PKR and PAS, he added, this was the best time for Umno to show the people’s unhappiness with the government of the day.
“The leaders who spoke at the Umno general assembly should have used this time to come down to Port Dickson to speak, but they decided not to.”
Isa also dismissed allegations by PKR’s Kapar MP Abdullah Sani that he was part of a conspiracy to ensure Anwar’s downfall in a rehash of 1998 when the then-deputy prime minister was sacked and jailed for corruption.
“In 1998, we were convinced that Anwar had done wrong so we sacked him from Umno.
“Of course, then, all MBs backed then-prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” he said, adding that Abdullah was only “making up stories” because of the PKR polls and the Port Dickson by-election.
Abdullah, who previously claimed that Mahathir and his long-time lieutenant Daim Zainuddin wanted to stop Anwar from becoming prime minister, recently alleged that “hidden hands” were behind Isa’s decision to contest.
Isa, the former Felda chairman, also said he had no issue with Pakatan Harapan’s promise to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into Felda’s losses.
“Felda’s problems are simple. If they want an RCI, I have no issues but if I explained the problems, they could be solved easily,” said Isa, who was previously arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission as part of investigations into alleged corruption in a London hotel purchase in 2014. He was subsequently released.