To sack or not to sack Hisham?

Some PKR and Umno leaders are now fantasising of the day Datuk Seri Azmin Ali (right) and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein would be sacked from their respective parties. – NSTP/File pic

It is often said that sacking a loyalist in a political party will make him a martyr.

This, according to many political observers, was the reason why PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim refrained from firing his deputy Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, even after all the public bickering between them.

When Anwar was sacked from Umno in 1998, it made him a hero to many. Thus the “Reformasi” movement was born.

Logically speaking, there is no reason why Anwar would want to make Azmin a saviour at his expense.

Of late, a similar situation is brewing in Umno with its leaders entangled in a dilemma: to sack Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein or leave him be?

It began with Hishammuddin allegedly getting cosy with Azmin as it is a taboo for two men from different political coalitions to be seen forming a friendship.

It was rumoured that Hishammuddin was apparently deemed by some as a bridge for Umno lawmakers to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, which the Sembrong member of parliament has repeatedly denied.

Both Anwar and Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi were very unhappy with this cosying up although it is unproven.

Some PKR and Umno leaders are now fantasising of the day Azmin and Hishammuddin would be sacked from their respective parties.

One of the people who was most vocal in this issue is Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam, who is attacking Zahid for failing to take disciplinary action against Hishammuddin.

Not only that, Umno disciplinary board chairman Tan Sri Apandi Ali himself was fuming when he was told that Hishammuddin’s disciplinary hearing would be postponed.

He took a bold move and announced his resignation. This raised a question: if Hishammuddin is really a mole in Umno and causing the party to lose its lawmakers, why won’t Zahid get rid of him?

Commentators were quick to suggest “interference”, with Lokman accusing Zahid of conspiring with the ruling government on the matter.

According to Lokman, Zahid would not terminate Hishammuddin for this reason.

However, several party insiders from Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional, when speaking to the New Straits Times, pooh-poohed insinuations of possible government meddling in the Zahid case.

“Why would anyone do something that brings no benefit to them? The way I see it, Zahid is afraid to sack Hishammuddin because of (the latter’s) family legacy and influence,” said a PH insider.

If this was the case, perhaps Lokman and Apandi could give words of encouragement to their party president instead of releasing stinging remarks publicly.

While some believe that the whole brouhaha had to do with the unconfirmed date of transfer of power from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to Anwar, others believe it to be an effort by certain people to evade prosecutions. Regardless, there exists at least two factions within Umno.

One side wants Anwar as premier and the other wants Dr Mahathir to stay, according to sources from the country’s largest Malay-based party.

One source said although Zahid was elected as party president by grassroots members, many leaders at the federal level were not keen in having him as the boss.

The source claimed that the reason for this was Zahid’s friendship with Anwar.

“One of the factions in Umno really can’t accept Anwar as their future prime minister and they are waiting for Dr Mahathir to find a viable successor.

“So the factions in Umno involve one group backing Zahid, who wants Anwar as the PM, and the other wants to get rid of Zahid because they want to see him thrown in jail for all the (alleged) corruption cases,” said the source.

American writer Rachel Caine once said, “Desperate people do desperate things” and according to a high-ranking PH leader who wished to be quoted anonymously, both Anwar and Zahid are currently anxious.

“If they manage to find proof that Hishammuddin betrayed Umno, no problem. But, if there is no concrete evidence, Hishammuddin will be seen as a martyr and that is game over for Zahid,” the insider said.

Nevertheless, Zahid still has time, considering Apandi is delaying his resignation until next month. But one thing is for sure: the decision to sack or keep Hishammuddin in Umno could make or break Zahid as the party president.
By Arfa Yunus.

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