KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob says he is ready to retire from mainstream politics and had in fact made earlier plans to do so after the end of the 14th general election.
However, he could not fulfil the arrangements made, after he was appointed as the prime minister to replace Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Aug 20, 2021 following the then Perikatan Nasional’s administrative crisis.
“I had made plans that if I win the GE14, I would become a minister, resign from office and later appointed as a senator. After ending my senatorship, I would immediately quit politics.
“I wanted to take a rest after the national polls (GE14). But then, I was made the prime minister,” he told BH in a special interview recently.
Ismail Sabri was appointed to the country’s top executive office only after 42 days serving as deputy prime minister.
As of now, the Bera member of parliament’s alignment is seen to have deviated from Umno’s top leadership, following the party’s disastrous performance in GE15 on Nov 19.
Ismail Sabri admitted that Umno was losing support from the masses after its two consecutive defeat at the national polls.
He also expressed concern over the recent sacking and suspension of dissidents in the party; the most notable expulsion was of Umno’s former youth chief and then rising star Khairy Jamaluddin.
“The action to remove a ‘team’ in order to maintain another will only result in conflict. Ultimately, support for the party has declined. I am worried about Umno’s future.
“The (number of ) new member wanting to join the party has declined. The existing ones have left. Maybe the party is more ‘peaceful’ following ouster of dissidents but (in reality) support (for the party) is declining.”
On Jan 27, Umno sacked Khairy and former Selangor Umno chief Tan Sri Noh Omar for violating the party’s Constitution during the GE15.
Khairy and Noh were among those critical of the Umno’s decision to reserve its top two posts – president and deputy president – from being contested in the party polls.
Also suspended Sembrong member of parliament Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein, former Umno information chief Shahril Sufian Hamdan, Tebrau Umno division chief Datuk Maulizan Bujang and Jempol Umno division chief Datuk Seri Mohd Salim Shariff from the party for six years.
The party also expelled 26 party members from Pahang Umno, Putrajaya Umno division (nine), Pasir Gudang Umno division (five) and two party members from the Tanjong Karang Umno division.
On Umno’s decision to have its two top posts uncontested, Ismail Sabri said he accepted and respected the decision made based on the majority support thrown by delegates during the party’s general assembly.
“As of now, I am in support of the decision. However, if the Registrar of Societies (RoS) says otherwise, then we have to decide (review on his stand over the party’s decision).”
Ismail Sabri said he had been made to understand that RoS in looking into the validity of Umno’s decision to reserve its top two posts from being contested, following complaints lodged by two of the party’s members.
On whether he would run for Umno presidency or its No.2 seat in the upcoming party polls, Ismail Sabri stressed that he had neither voiced nor expressed interest for the two posts.
“For me, if we are going to contest (for seats) it should not be a crowded affair, where three to four people vying for a single seat.
“There is no meaning to that. It will only lead to divisions in the party.
“That is why (then before Umno made a decision on the contesting for the president and deputy president posts) I had said that we need to look into the party’s stand on the matter.”
Ismail also reiterated that he had never questioned the party’s decision on the recent sackings or even referred to the matter as something “haram” (prohibited in Islam).
“I only question the process (leading to the sacking) which did not adhere to procedures and legal provisions based on the party’s constitution.” he added.
© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd