PETALING JAYA: A PPBM leader has scoffed at the idea of making former prime minister Najib Razak the de facto leader of Umno and also of the parliamentary opposition now that Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has gone on leave.
Tariq Ismail, a member of the PPBM supreme council, said Najib would have to clear himself of graft charges before he could credibly represent the alternative Malaysian voice in Parliament.
Until then, he added, “Najib represents the worst of Malaysia” and should not speak for the Malays through Umno or for any other segment of the Malaysian population.
Tariq was referring to a suggestion made in a press statement by Umno supreme council member Lokman Noor Adam.
The statement followed Zahid’s announcement that he was taking leave from the Umno president’s post and handing over his duties to his deputy, Mohamad Hasan, with immediate effect. He said his decision was a consequence of the “turmoil faced by the party”.
Lokman said the appointment of a de facto leader would ensure stability in Umno.
Tariq said it was admirable of Lokman to think of Najib and added: “Stupidity is not prejudiced.”
He dismissed the notion that Zahid’s absence or Najib’s return would save Umno.
“Umno is not stable with Zahid and it will be worse off with Najib,” he told FMT. “Cash is no longer king with Najib. Umno cannot be saved even if you pump in steroids. With people defecting and the culture still the same, it has sailed into the wind.”
He said it was arrogance that had caused both Umno and Barisan Nasional to fall.
“Many former BN ministers still blame their fall on mundane things such as Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto, which they say was plucked from the sky, on delusional notions of fake news regarding 1MDB and on many other ridiculous if not bemusing factors.
“They fail to look in the mirror and at themselves. They have failed to ponder upon the consequence of their previous actions on the rakyat even after their crushing defeat.”
Lokman’s suggestion was also shot down by Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin, who was one of Zahid’s rivals in last June’s Umno presidential election.
“Don’t spread fake news,” Khairy said on Twitter. “There is nobody who would make such an addled suggestion. I am confident that even Lokman Adam is not this ridiculous.”
Najib has since said that he has no intention of becoming the party’s de facto leader.