Senior Umno member calls for Najib to return as leader
Supreme council member of party wants disgraced ex-PM to be opposition leader
PETALING JAYA: A senior member of Malaysia's former ruling party Umno has called for ex-prime minister Najib Razak to return as the party's de facto leader, while Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is on leave.
Yesterday, Umno Supreme Council member Lokman Noor Adam said he was disappointed at Mr Ahmad Zahid's decision on Tuesday to step aside and hand over presidential duties to his deputy, calling the move a "victory" for PM Mahathir Mohamad.
"In such a critical situation, Umno needs the services of an experienced leader who is respected by BN MPs who have not jumped (ship), as well as those who have jumped," Datuk Lokman said, referring to the former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional.
"Based on this, as Umno supreme council member, I suggest that the Umno president (Ahmad Zahid) appoint Najib as Umno's de facto leader as well as the opposition leader while the Umno president is on leave," he added.
Mr Ahmad Zahid decided to step down following weeks of pressure for him to resign amid an exodus of elected representatives, leaders and party members from the party.
The former deputy prime minister is also facing a total of 46 criminal charges, including for graft and money-laundering involving millions of ringgit.
Mr Ahmad Zahid said he decided to go on leave because "Umno has to be saved from collapse".
Najib had stepped down as Umno president days after BN was defeated in the May general election. He too faces dozens of criminal charges for corruption, criminal breach of trust and money-laundering, linked to troubled state fund 1MDB.
Mr Lokman said Najib's appointment as de facto leader was crucial to ensure Umno's stability as more than half of Umno members who voted for Mr Ahmad Zahid as president would not accept the leadership of deputy president Mohamad Hasan.
Former Umno youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted in response to Mr Lokman's proposal yesterday that nominating Najib as leader must be fake news.
He said: "Do not spread fake news. No one will propose a dumb suggestion such as this. I am confident that @LokmanAdam too will not be dumb like this."
In response,Mr Lokman created a new poll to let people decide who they want as opposition leader.
In the Facebook poll, Mr Lokman pitted Mr Najib and Mr Khairy against each other.
"(On Tuesday), when I proposed that Najib should be the temporary opposition leader while the Umno president is still on leave, Khairy said I was dumb. If you could vote, who would you vote as the de facto opposition leader?" he asked in the Facebook poll yesterday.
The poll has so far attracted 2,300 votes yesterday afternoon, with 78 per cent of people voting for Najib while 22 per cent had voted for Mr Khairy. - THE STAR