Zahid denies asking Umno candidates to sign letters supporting him to form Cabinet

Photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge

Photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge

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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 1): Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi denied a news report which stated that Umno candidates, who were given appointment letters or “watikah” to run in the upcoming 15th general election (GE15), had been also asked to sign letters of support to back him as the next prime minister. 

Speaking to reporters outside of the Jalan Duta Court Complex here, where he was attending his graft trial, Zahid said that the news report was “lies”. 

“It’s lies,” was his short answer when asked about it. 

A report by The Vibes news portal quoted sources from Umno, who said that candidates who had been given appointment letters or “watikah” were also asked to sign letters supporting Zahid by giving him the mandate to form the next Cabinet — should Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) win the election.

This includes backing Zahid to negotiate with other political parties, and to appoint Members of Parliament of his choice as Cabinet members, effectively positioning him as the prime minister candidate, according to party insiders.

Sources in the story said that Zahid was going state by state to present the “watikah” to candidates. 

The report said that candidate appointment letters were given on the condition that said candidates sign a pledge of allegiance to the president, giving him the mandate to form the Government if Umno-BN win the election.

Meanwhile, Zahid also responded to a question about Perlis Umno candidates and four-term MP for Arau Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim being axed from running in the GE15. 

Speculation was rife on Monday (Oct 31) that Shahidan had been axed from running in the Arau constituency.

Shahidan himself uploaded a Facebook posting saying that Arau BN general election operation rooms had been shut down. 

The posting read: "Tonight is the night of deepest sorrow. All Arau BN Parliament operation rooms have been closed, and the party's flags have been taken down, the first time ever in history.

“Wait until we announce the candidates tonight (Tuesday),” was Zahid’s coy response when asked about this.

Zahid, who is the president of BN, and the coalition are expected to announce the BN candidates running for the upcoming election at 8.30pm in World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur.

Nomination falls on Nov 5, followed by early voting on Nov 15, and polling on Nov 19.

Shahidan first won the Arau seat in 1986. He had served as the Perlis menteri besar, and was also the Tambun Tulang state assemblyman between 1995 and 2008.

For more GE15 stories, click here.

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Surin Murugiah