PETALING JAYA: Two of Umno’s most vocal critics - Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and Khairy Jamaluddin – have hit out at two of the party’s top leaders for bringing back former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak as a Barisan Nasional (BN) adviser.
In his speech at the Padang Rengas Umno division AGM today, Nazri urged current Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi not to be overly influenced by Najib.
“I want to tell Zahid that as the elected president, he must work hard for the interests of the party. Zahid have helped us work together with PAS ... execute decisions that we have agreed on and please don’t continue to be Najib’s political secretary,“ said Nazri.
He said Zahid must remember he is the party president now.
“We want you to protect the party and its interests. Umno does not belong to any individual, you can’t do as you like,“ he added.
Former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who was also present at the event as a guest of honour, echoed similar sentiments as he urged Najib not to use the party to “shield” himself against the court proceedings.
He said party members are innocent of the crimes that Najib is accused of.
“Ladies and gentlemen. It is not that I don’t respect Najib. He adopted me as a Cabinet minister. I do owe him gratitude.
“But my appeal is that do not use the party as a personal shield because those in the lower rank are innocent. A lot of remaining Umno members are innocent.
“I was a minister. I know of the mistakes and I apologise to the people of Malaysia,” said Khairy.
He also urged the party not to treat those who speak out like outcasts.
“To the party leaders, do not outcast us,” Khairy said.
“Maybe we do not have any positions, but we are not traitors who will leave the party and cross over to Pakatan Harapan.
“What we are saying is only for the benefit of the party because we do not want the old culture to repeat itself.”
Khairy and Padang Rengas MP Nazri are among the few leading figures in Umno who are critical of Najib’s appointment as BN’s chief adviser.
Opposition leader and Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, however, praised Najib’s appointment and said it would restore Umno to its former glory.
Former Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein did not criticise Najib’s appointment but said there was nothing that could be done but to wait and see the developments after this.
Najib was named chairman of BN’s advisory council in an unanimous decision by the coalition’s supreme council, BN secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor announced last week.
Najib is currently on trial for criminal breach of trust, money-laundering and power abuse in connection with SRC International, formerly a subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
He also faces other charges of corruption and money laundering in connection with 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), besides other charges related to 1MDB’s dealings with the International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC).