PETALING JAYA: A split seems to have emerged within Umno Youth, after the wing’s Kinabatangan division in Sabah questioned its central leadership for urging Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to take leave from the party presidency pending the outcome of his corruption trial.
Mohamad Kurniawan Naim Moktar, the Kinabatangan Umno Youth chief who is also the son of the division’s chief Bung Moktar Radin, said the call by Youth Chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki was unbecoming of the wing’s reputation as a “strong bastion of the party”.
“Umno Youth should aggressively defend the leadership and the party,” said Kurniawan.
Asyraf today said going on leave would allow Zahid to better focus on his upcoming corruption trial, but said he was not calling for Zahid’s resignation.
Zahid, the former deputy prime minister who was elected as the Umno president in July, is facing 45 charges related to criminal breach of trust, money laundering and corruption, involving more than RM100 million.
Asyraf’s view comes days after Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who heads the party’s council of advisers, said it was best for Zahid to either take leave or resign from his post as was the practice of previous Umno leaders who had been charged in court.
But Kurniawan said the 45 charges had not been proven in court, adding that they were “baseless accusations”.
“The 45 charges are merely an attempt to weaken the leadership of the party. Whoever is in the front line will be the main target of the enemies who are out to weaken this party,” he added.