Back in power, Umno’s suits against 9 defectors in limbo?

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Cabinet, which includes the Umno MPs who defected to PPBM after GE14. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The fate of lawsuits filed by Umno against nine MPs who defected to PPBM in the aftermath of the 2018 general election is likely in limbo now that the country’s largest Malay party is back in power under a different coalition.

When contacted, former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali, whose law firm was entrusted to handle the case for Umno, refused to comment.

“Please channel your question to the president of Umno. Thank you,” he told FMT.

Attempts to reach Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi were unsuccessful.

Another lawyer, Ashok Kandiah, representing seven of the MPs, said he had yet to receive any instruction.

“I believe some are busy as they were recently appointed to the administration and due to the unexpected Covid-19 outbreak,” he said.

Zahid said last year that the suits were made in the interest of the party.

The actions on the basis of breach of trust were filed against Mustapa Mohamed (Jeli), Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz (Tanah Merah), Hamzah Zainuddin (Larut), Abdul Latiff Ahmad (Mersing), Mohd Fasiah Mohd Fakeh (Sabak Bernam), Rosol Wahid (Hulu Terengganu), Shahbudin Yahaya (Tasek Gelugor), Noor Azmi Ghazali (Bagan Serai) and Mas Ermieyati Samsudin (Masjid Tanah).

Umno is seeking RM200,000 in damages from each of them.

Thirteen MPs including four from Sabah had crossed over to PPBM when it was part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition led by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

On March 1, PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin broke away from PH and was sworn in as prime minister after getting support from PPBM, Umno, PAS, Parti Gabungan Sarawak and several individual MPs including former PKR leaders.

Mustapa has returned to the Cabinet as minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (economy), Hamzah is home minister, and Abdul Latiff is rural development minister.

Meanwhile, Ikmal is deputy defence minister, Muslimin is deputy education minister, Noor Azmi is deputy health minister, Rosol is deputy trade and consumer affairs minister, and Mas Ermieyati the deputy entrepreneur development and cooperatives minister.

Trials for the nine cases, filed in the High Court of Malaya nationwide, have yet to start due preliminary objections raised by parties.