PETALING JAYA: Umno Supreme Council member Isham Jalil has maintained that he will not attend any of the council’s meetings as long as the party insists on working with DAP.
Party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had earlier challenged Isham to attend tonight’s meeting to air his grouses about Umno’s cooperation with DAP in person, after Isham said in a Facebook video that the Malays were rejecting Umno as it had strayed from its core principles and was willing to act as “DAP’s lackey” in the unity government.
Dismissing Zahid’s challenge, Isham instead reminded the Umno president that he was willing to debate with him on the matter “if he is brave”.
He also threw down the gauntlet to Zahid for them to resign together for the sake of the party.
“I have said this before… As long as he (Zahid) decides to go to the elections with DAP, I will protest and not attend the (Supreme Council) meetings which he chairs and can veto decisions,” Isham said in a statement.
“This is my second term in the Supreme Council, and I can already predict what he will do at the meeting. Why should I do what he wants and show up in his territory?
“If the president is sincere, perhaps he can take up his previous challenge to debate with me in a neutral arena. If he is brave.”
In October, Isham said he was willing to debate with Zahid on “neutral ground”, after Zahid told Berita Harian that his critics should debate with him if they were “man enough”.
Isham has been a vocal critic of Umno’s cooperation with DAP in the unity government, saying the party has lost the support of the Malay community because it is working with its former foe.
In September, Isham said that many within Umno’s grassroots felt they were being forced by Zahid and the party’s top leadership to accept the cooperation with DAP.
In a Facebook video yesterday, he hit out at some Umno leaders for acting “more DAP than the actual party itself”, claiming that they were excessively promoting DAP to the point of causing displeasure among grassroots members.
He was commenting on the results of last Saturday’s by-election, where PAS’s Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar won the Kemaman seat with a convincing 37,220-vote majority over Barisan Nasional’s Raja Affandi Raja Noor.
In his statement today, Isham also said he hoped Zahid would “accept the reality” that more Malays were turning their back on Umno because of the party’s decision to work with DAP at elections after forming the unity government last year.
Claiming that Umno would be “destroyed” in a few years if it continued to work with DAP, Isham told Zahid to put aside his personal interests for the sake of the party.
“If you resign, I will resign too,” he said.