April 16, 2024

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Anwar hails ‘successful Umno polls’ after controversial intervention

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Kuala Lumpur, March 20 — Anwar Ibrahim congratulated the Umno leadership and its president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi following the conclusion of its elections, even as questions linger over the controversial decision of Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail to exempt the party from legal action for banning any contest for its top two posts.

“This is a convincing success which will definitely strengthen the unity government,” Anwar said, referring to his coalition government formed last year on the back of Zahid’s efforts to ensure support from Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs.

Anwar also said that BN and his own Pakatan Harapan coalition were still discussing seat allocation, as the two coalitions prepare to join hands for the state elections that must be held this year.

“Discussions are ongoing, it’s going on well and we will finalise the matter very soon. We did not discuss it in detail, the unity government secretariat elections committee will continue to hold talks,” he told repoters after attending a meeting of coalition party leaders last night.

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Saifuddin sparked controversy after using his ministerial power to exempt Umno from action, days after the Registrar of Societies reportedly warned the party that a motion to stop contest against Zahid and his deputy Mohamad Hasan was not valid.

A copy of a letter from the RoS that made the rounds showed the agency instructing Umno to instead open the top two posts for contest.

Saifuddin said that it had been an “applicable” decision, and that if Umno members who had previously brought the issue to the RoS were not satisfied with the decision, they could take it to court.

Speaking in the Dewan Rakyat on March 8, he said the exemption given to Umno was based on Section 70 of the Societies Act 1966.

“Section 70 of the act specifically allows the minister to make some exceptions and the decision I made was directed to the exception of compliance with Section 13 of the same act,” he said.

NMT as reported by Bernama