Grumbles continue in Umno after sackings

Some Umno members have continued to speak out against 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), exposing faultlines within the ruling party even as others defended the huge donation that was credited into Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal accounts.

Datuk Abdul Aziz Sheikh Fadzir, an MP from Kedah, told a news website that the authorities should re-focus their attention on investigating the debt-laden state investor.

"I ask that the Special Task Force coordinate again so that there is no dispute between all three agencies," he was quoted as saying.

He was referring to the news that the police had been investigating personnel in other agencies for leaking documents.

His comments come amid unhappiness among party members after Datuk Seri Najib sacked deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin and replaced other Cabinet members last week.

An Umno Johor division chief, Datuk Abdul Hamid Abdul Rahman, said yesterday that a general assembly must be held to listen to voices from the party's grassroots.

"There are some members who are disappointed (with Muhyiddin's sacking) but we have to hear the majority. We need to have a general assembly and after that, we will know what the grassroots want," he said.

Separately, reports say the Umno division headed by party vice-president Shafie Apdal, a Sabahan also dropped from the Cabinet last week, had withdrawn an invitation for Mr Najib to officiate at its division meeting next week. He may be replaced by Tan Sri Muhyiddin.

Other Umno members, however, have defended Mr Najib.

The ruling coalition Barisan Nasional's strategic communications chief Abdul Rahman Dahlan said in a TV interview on Tuesday that Mr Najib had to spend more money for Umno as the party had lost key states such as Selangor at the general election.

Umno supreme council member Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, referring to the US$700 million (S$965 million) donation deposited into Mr Najib's bank accounts, said the money was needed to fund Umno's vast network of 6,000 branches and 3.5 million members.

Political analyst Wan Saiful Wan Jan said the pockets of dissent show that discontent remains despite last week's sackings, but will not snowball into a movement against the premier without a feasible leader.

Mr Muhyiddin has not indicated that he will challenge Mr Najib.

"Still, the scattered voices of dissent show that Najib cannot solve the controversy just by removing a few people," Mr Wan Saiful told The Straits Times.

"Until he resolves the lingering questions over 1MDB, concerns will continue to be raised."

This article was first published on August 6, 2015.
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