After Zahid’s no-show at GRS ceramah, Umno veep insists party still intact

Umno vice-president Mahdzir Khalid says the party and its 39 MPs were united.

KOTA KINABALU: After Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s no-show at Gabungan Rakyat Sabah’s (GRS) ceramah tonight, vice-president Mahdzir Khalid denied there was any divisions in the party.

This comes amid talk of several Umno MPs backing Anwar Ibrahim in forming a new government, and after Zahid said he could not stop any Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs from supporting the PKR president.

When asked if Zahid’s absence was evidence of a split in Umno, Mahdzir said the party and its 39 MPs were united.

“No, no, no. We are one. We are en bloc and intact. We have 39 MPS,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the ceramah.

MCA president Wee Ka Siong was also present at the ceramah but declined to answer questions on Zahid’s statement.

The GRS ceramah at Kampung Sendil Putatan was attended by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, STAR president Jeffrey Kitingan, SAPP president Yong Teck Lee, Perikatan Nasional (PN) secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin, PBRS deputy president Arthur Kurup, Wee and Mahdzir.

While a crowd of more than 1,000 attended, Zahid was noticeably absent despite being included in a poster for the event.

Anwar on Wednesday claimed that he had a strong and convincing majority to form the government, adding that the majority of MPs supporting him were Malay-Muslim.

While Umno leaders and Wee were quick to dispel talk of defections to Anwar’s side, Zahid said he had been informed that many Umno MPs were in support of the opposition leader.

He also said he respected their stand and could not stand in the way of them supporting Anwar, adding that BN had never officially joined PN.

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