Zahid’s roadshow ‘to strengthen support base’

Looi Sue-Chern

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi must seek to inspire confidence at a time when party morale is low and any doubt in the leadership is likely to stir up the ranks. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 25, 2018.

AHMAD Zahid Hamidi must make use of his nationwide tour kicking off in Kuala Terengganu tomorrow as a platform to strengthen his position as party president amid calls that he step down until the charges against him are cleared, analysts said.

The former deputy prime minister, who was elected Umno president on June 30, may find that he needs to defend himself to the party members after he was charged last week with 45 counts of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money-laundering involving RM114.15 million. 

“It is possible he needs to defend his presidency so there will not be any more calls for him to step down,” said Professor Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani, political analyst at Universiti Utara Malaysia.

Some party leaders urged the party to suspend Zahid pending the conclusion of the case, but Umno Supreme Council member Tajuddin Abdul Rahman rejected the call, saying the charges against their president were politically motivated.

On Saturday, Umno’s council of advisers chairman Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said it would meet to discuss Zahid’s position. He also said party convention dictated that a party leader must go on leave when he has been charged with an offence.

Zahid snapped when reporters in Parliament asked him on Tuesday if he would go on leave. “What right do you have to ask this question?” he replied.

International Islamic University political science lecturer Dr Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar said morale in Umno is low and any uncertainty concerning the leadership would further weaken the Barisan Nasional lynchpin party.

It is necessary for the leadership to restore confidence in Umno as a party that continued to fight for the rights and privileges of the Malays, he said.

“Zahid explaining his 45 charges can ‘clear’ his name and strengthen the party machinery,” Tunku Mohar told The Malaysian Insight.

He said Zahid has to confront the charges so as not to repeat his predecessor Najib Razak’s mistake.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (left) must directly address the charges to his name so as not to repeat the mistake of his predecessor, Najib Razak. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 25, 2018.

When the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal broke, Najib, who was prime minister and the sovereign wealth fund’s advisory board chairman, did not attempt to address the issue, let alone go on a roadshow to talk to Umno grassroots about it.

“Zahid is going on a roadshow partly because (he and Umno) no longer control the media like before. In the past when they were the government, they had that advantage,” Tunku Mohar said.

Institut Darul Ehsan deputy chairman Professor Mohammad Redzuan Othman said Zahid obviously had to defend himself and attempt to demonstrate to the party members that he had not committed any crime during the roadshow. 

“He wants to show that he has not committed any offence, and that all he has done has been for good,” Redzuan said.

Some of Zahid’s charges are linked to his family-run welfare foundation, which builds religious schools, mosques and orphanages.

He faces 10 counts of criminal breach of trust involving funds of nearly RM20.83 million belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi, of which he is a trustee.

On whether the roadshow will work in Zahid’s favour, Tunku Mohar said he had yet to find out how the party members feel about the event.

“Many Umno members have lost spirit. But in any party, there is a core group that will support the leadership no matter what. Zahid’s hope is to strengthen this core group. 

“The grassroots at the branches are traditionally the party president’s strong supporters. But those from branches in urban areas are not always hardcore supporters of the president.”

Asked if there is any significance in Kuala Terengganu being Zahid’s first stop, Tunku Mohar said he can only speculate that the embattled leader wanted to be closer with Terengganu Umno.

“He can also meet with (PAS president Abdul) Hadi (Awang) and the PAS leadership to perhaps gain some sympathy and build cooperation with the Islamist party.”

UTM’s Azizuddin, said it was too soon to predict the outcome of the roadshow.

“We don’t know yet how he will explain his 45 charges His court case is also new and has not proceeded to trial yet.

“It is also up to the Umno grassroots whether to believe him and accept his explanations. It’s too early to say whether the roadshow will be a success,” he said.

Zahid’s roadshow will take place over seven weeks, ending in December with Sabah and Kelantan being the last two stops. – October 25, 2018.

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  • Dont forget to bring the Arab Donor along and show us his cash

    Posted 5 years ago by ASK LAZIE · Reply

  • Do expect slinging rotten eggs.

    Posted 5 years ago by Tanahair Ku · Reply

  • Go for it Zahid. Dont feel shy if the crowd does not appear

    Posted 5 years ago by Sabah One · Reply

  • Just go & show all - what a thief n fool u were & are still

    Posted 5 years ago by Sabah One · Reply

  • Go go, Zahid, and shout Reformati Reformati

    Posted 5 years ago by Leng Kapri As Saribasi · Reply

  • Dare you show the crowd your bank statements??

    Posted 5 years ago by Wen Chiuan Woo · Reply