Kedah Umno leader says tricked into press conference against Mukhriz

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 21): Kedah Wanita Umno chief Datuk Maznah Hamid said she had no idea she would be made to appear in a press conference yesterday to declare a loss of confidence in Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.

She told Sinar Online that she had received instructions to attend a private briefing by the state Umno leadership but found herself ushered into a row of other leaders at a press conference without knowing what it was about.

Kedah Umno deputy chief Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Hanipah, who held the press conference, then announced that the state party's leaders had lost confidence in Mukhriz, who is also Kedah Umno liaison chief.

“As chief of the state women's wing and division, I attended the briefing to hear updates on the party especially in Kedah.

“Upon arriving at the venue, there was no briefing. Instead, I and several other leaders were told to line up in front as part of a press conference, when in fact she had no idea what the subject or purpose of the press conference was about,” Sinar Online quoted her as saying.

She told the Malay news portal her presence there did not mean she support calls for Mukhriz's removal, and instead wanted an explanation from the Umno leadership.

Ahmad Bashah yesterday said state division leaders and wing leaders wanted Mukhriz out and were appealing to Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak to remove him.

He said Mukhriz had failed to unite the party leadership and machinery, adding that the son of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had no strategy for Kedah Umno to face the 14th general election, due in 2018.

Mukhriz became menteri besar after the last national polls in May 2013, when Barisan Nasional took back the state from PAS.

While he has not taken on Najib directly over the prime minister's alleged financial scandals, Mukhriz has questioned his stewardship of Umno when calling grassroots leaders to support leadership reform. He has also appeared to align himself with Najib's critics in Umno such as sacked deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.