Zahid: I'm not taking leave from party

Rohaniza Idris and Syed Umar Ariff

KUALA LUMPUR: The Umno supreme council meeting on Friday did not discuss matters relating to the call for the party president to take leave pending his court cases.

Party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who chaired the meeting, said not one council member raised the matter.

"No discussions (on that matter). But while we celebrate differences of opinions, we have opted to put a full stop on the matter and move forward.

"We reject efforts to divide the party internally and externally," Zahid told a media conference after the meeting.

Last month, Umno Youth had unanimously asked for Zahid to take leave from as party president to focus on his ongoing court case.

Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said the decision was made so that Zahid would not be burdened by other matters facing the party.

Zahid had been slapped with 45 charges of criminal breach of trust, graft and money laundering involving millions of ringgit.

Zahid maintained that the youth wing had merely requested for the leadership to consider their suggestion.

"They (Umno Youth wing) had only requested for it to be considered."

At the same time, Zahid said Umno would lead joint efforts with Pas and several non-governmental organisations against the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

"We will spearhead the programmes and campaigns against ICERD, which clearly contravenes the Federal Constitution.

"I myself will be on the same stage with Pas president (Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang) from Nov 17 for a series of campaign beginning in Pasir Salak."

On international rating body Moody's Investors Service provide Petronas with a negative outlook, Zahid expressed disappointment with the government's efforts to preserve the national oil and gas company's reserves.

"We are sad that Petronas reserves have been used to cover the budget's deficit at RM30 billion. Last year's total dividend was about RM20 billion.

"We are concerned that this move will reduce Petronas' reserves."

On matters relating to claims that about 40 Umno members of parliament would cross over to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, Zahid said he was confident that they would not do so.

"We have 48 MPs. I am confident that they will remain with us. All decisions would be made collectively and they do not want to leave Umno." © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd