PETALING JAYA: Penang deputy chief minister P Ramasamy says Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will remain a thorn in the flesh for Umno and the unity government so long as he remains president of the party.
This comes after Umno’s general assembly yesterday passed a motion to not contest its president and deputy president posts in the party polls, which must be held by May 19.
“Zahid might have emerged unscathed temporarily, but he seems to be the ‘albatross’ around the neck of Umno and to some extent, Pakatan Harapan (PH) or the unity government,” Ramasamy said in a statement.
It had been reported that Umno was split on whether a contest for the top two posts should be held, with some saying it risks dividing the party, and others arguing that it would allow Zahid and his deputy, Mohamad Hasan to prove that they have the support of the grassroots.
The Penang DAP deputy chairman said Umno cannot be rejuvenated without first cleaning up its “corruption-tainted” image, adding that Zahid appears to be its “most tainted leader”.
He said, however, the unity government may have avoided an immediate political crisis with Umno’s decision not to contest its top two posts.
“Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s headache might have temporarily evaporated,” Ramasamy said, alluding to the fact that it would ensure Umno’s continued support for his administration.
The Perai assemblyman said the real challenge for PH and Umno now was on how to increase its support from among Malay voters in the upcoming state elections.
“It is better to have Umno on the side of PH rather than not have it all,” he said.
Six states – PH-controlled Penang, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, as well as PAS-led Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu – will hold state elections this year.