KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — Several Umno leaders yesterday described the statement by Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi that Umno does not need a poster boy for the 15th general election (GE15) as unbecoming and one that does not reflect the party’s stand.
Mohd Puad, who is also Johor state assembly Speaker, in a Facebook posting today, said having a poster boy was no longer relevant and an easy target for slander.
He posted the statement following the Federal Court’s decision day before yesterday to uphold former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine for misappropriating RM42 million of SRC International funds.
In Selangor, Sabak Bernam Umno division chief Datuk Dr Abd Rahman Bakri said any statement issued by any individual should not precede matters that have been decided by the party leadership and Supreme Council.
Abd Rahman said Umno had previously had decided on its vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob being the party’s ’poster boy’ and prime minister candidate, and the matter of replacing the ‘poster boy’ did not need to be raised because it was ultimately a party decision.
“We are loyal people and love the party. The party had previously decided Ismail Sabri as the ‘poster boy’ and candidate for Prime Minister. That had been decided. Why do you want to talk about waiting for a decision from the top five, political bureau and Supreme Council. It is not an individual or (party) division decision,” he said when contacted by Bernama.
Hulu Selangor division chief Datuk Mat Nadzari Ahmad Dahlan agreed with Abd Rahman, saying that the decision to name a ’poster boy’ and prime minister candidate was decided by the party, and this should be respected by all members.
“Anyone can comment, but the party’s decision must be respected. To me, the party’s decision is far more important than an individual’s,” he said.
Damansara Umno chief Datuk Ikhwan Salim Sujak said a poster boy was a must to introduce the candidate who will lead the government if Umno wins the general election.
In Johor, Bakri Umno division chief Datuk Mohd Fuad Tukirin reminded party members not to issue inappropriate statements that appear to show an attempt to interfere with the country’s judicial system.
He reminded Umno members not to do that although they are saddened by the Federal Court’s decision against former Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
“Let’s not tarnish Umno’s image with inappropriate suggestions which may give an impression of efforts to meddle with the country’s judicial system,” he said when contacted today.
Meanwhile, in Kedah, Umno Merbok Division chief Datuk Annuar Ahmad said the selection of Ismail Sabri as the “poster boy” and Prime Minister candidate for GE15 had been unanimously decided by the delegates at the Special Umno General Assembly in May.
As such, he said any decision to change that would need to be discussed by Umno’s top leadership and not openly mentioned to avoid a bad perception of the party.
“There is no need for us to create something that can cause problems to the party or make things worse,” he said when contacted by Bernama tonight.
In Melaka, Alor Gajah Umno acting division chief, Datuk Rospandi Leman lambasted Mohd Puad, saying that the party needs to unite in the face of GE15 that could be held at any time.
“All suggestions can be submitted through the platform provided by the party and any individual should not use the media to express their dissatisfaction on matters involving the party,” he told Bernama when contacted.
“This Saturday we will be at the World Trade Centre, we will meet and present our views, for the interest of the party, not of individuals. But for this poster boy issue, for me, what has been said and promised… let’s just go with it,” he added.
In Negri Sembilan, Supreme Council member, Datuk Seri Jalaluddin Alias advised party leaders not to make statements that could strain relationships within the party.
He said the Supreme Council had decided in April to nominate Ismail Sabri as Umno’s poster boy for GE15.
Jalaluddin said that decision showed that Umno president, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his deputy Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan had put the interests of the party first before their positions to ensure victory for Barisan Nasional.
“It’s not the poster boy issue that we should be talking about, it’s best that we streamline the party machinery at every level to woo voters in choosing whoever is the face on BN posters during GE15,” he said.