PETALING JAYA: Allowing Sabah Umno chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin to lead the Barisan Nasional machinery for the upcoming state election is a suicidal move, said its Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
He said having Bung Moktar, who is currently facing corruption charge, on the forefront would jeopardise the party’s chance of winning the polls.
“It will put us on the defensive, when we should be on the offensive (against opposing candidates) during campaigns.
“We believe the party president (Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi) is a wise man who will reconsider our appeal to have a different person leading the machinery.
“I have even spoken to Bung Moktar about this but the decision turned out as such and announced earlier today (by Zahid),” Rahman said in a press conference earlier, accompanied by several Umno division leaders.
He said while he and party members wished for Bung Moktar to be cleared of the charges, they were of the view that the machinery should be headed by someone who was clear of negative perception, lest it be manipulated by the opposing parties.
The person should be a leader with unquestionable credibility and not burdened by personal problems, he added.
“We believe that our view is supported by many Sabah Umno leaders, as well as Sabahans,” said the Tuaran Umno division chief.
On a question whether former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman and Sungai Sibuga assemblyman, should instead take up the role, Rahman said the request has been politely declined by Musa.
Rahman also did not mention any name of state Umno leaders suitable to head the election machinery, saying that there were many of calibre.
Rahman earlier said the decision contradicted the spirit of Sabah Umno’s full autonomy, of which the motion was passed at the Umno General Assembly last year.
“I believe that Sabahans want Sabah Umno to have the freedom to determine the direction without the intervention of the central leadership in Kuala Lumpur.
“It is time that Umno listens to the ‘shouts’ of the people since 1963 who want Sabah to have the right to determine their political direction.”
Rahman said he had met Zahid in July 2018 and gave his rationale on Sabah Umno autonomy and was met with positive feedback from the latter who instructed series of meeting to be held on the matter.
He however said many state Umno division leaders were not consulted prior to Zahid’s announcement earlier today.
Zahid, who is also Barisan Nasional chairman, was reported as saying that the selection of the state chief minister would be decided by its state leadership, headed by Bung Moktar, should the party win the upcoming state elections.
Election Commission (EC) has set the Sabah state election to be held on Sept 26, nomination on Sept 12, while early voting is on Sept 22.
“We arrived here to seek a meeting with him on this, but yet to secure an appointment,” Rahman added.
While prepared to accept any action by the party leadership, Rahman pledged his loyalty to Umno and would never leave on his own accord.
Bung Moktar had on May 3 last year pleaded not guilty to two counts of receiving bribes of RM2.2 million and RM262,500 for obtaining approval for Felcra to make a RM150 million investment in unit trust products of Public Mutual.
The 60-year-old, who was then the Felcra non-executive chairman, was accused of taking the bribes from an investment agent through his wife Zizie Ezette on June 12, 2015.
He also claimed trial to the charge of taking for himself a bribe of RM337,500 from another Public Mutual investment agent under the name of Zizie Ezette, for the same purpose on June 19, 2015.