Party veteran and former supreme council member Syed Hamid Albar announced today that he will be leaving Umno as he has lost all belief in the party in which he had served for decades.
He told Malaysiakini that he now intends to join Bersatu, which is led by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Syed Hamid said he had, in fact, already considered that he was no longer a part of Umno after pledging support to Pakatan Harapan prior to the 14th general election.
"Even Kota Tinggi Bersatu has already asked for my assistance," the former Kota Tinggi parliamentarian told Malaysiakini.
In an earlier statement, Syed Hamid said Umno had become "elitist", "undemocratic" and far removed from the grassroots to understand the needs of the people.
He said the Umno of old, "fought not only for the Malays but genuinely cared for the interests of the rakyat, regardless of race or religion".
This, he lamented, was no longer the case.
"As much as it pains me to admit, it is clear that the ideology and philosophy that Umno was built on have been twisted to become intolerant, self-centred and even undemocratic," he said.
Worse still, the former minister - who helmed various ministries in his time in government including law, foreign affairs and home affairs - claimed that Umno leaders have taken to denying abuse of power and corruption for their own excesses, and hence had allowed the erosion of the party's good name.
"Some may have seen or heard of my open support for Pakatan Harapan in the run-up to the recent GE14. But to those who have not heard or are unaware of my position and support, I would like to state clearly and for the record that I am officially no longer a member of Umno."
Here, Malaysiakini reproduces Syed Hamid’s statement in full:
"I was born in Umno family by virtue of my late father who dedicated his life for the struggle to achieve the independence through Umno. Naturally, seeing the pains and sacrifices he endured, the love and the ideals of the party were passed down to me and indeed became the core of what I believed in.
Over the past few decades and for most of my life until recently, I had served Umno loyally and to the best of my abilities. This was the party that truly cared for the Malays and at the same time very balanced, fair and gracious in its treatment to other races.
The party who fought not only for the Malays but genuinely cared for the interests of the rakyat, regardless of race or religion. This was the party that I knew and served loyally and unashamedly, come rain or shine.
Sadly, this is no longer the Umno of today. While Umno was founded upon the ideals of ensuring that the Malay race, the religion of Islam and culture were upheld and protected, this did not in any way mean that other races, beliefs and traditions should be marginalised.
As much as it pains me to admit, it is clear that the ideology and philosophy that Umno was built on have been twisted to become intolerant, self-centred and even undemocratic. Its leaders have grown elitist, too far removed and detached from the grassroots to listen or understand the needs of our rakyat.
Worse, these same leaders have practised and condoned a denial syndrome that has gone on for far too long, foregoing transparency and the rule of law in favour of their own excesses. Umno’s leadership in recent years has destroyed the party’s image, reputation and good name, as they allowed abuse of power and corruption to thrive.
Umno is not the party I had once known. It has become a selfish party that strives for its own survival and gain and cared little or none for the rakyat’s. The ideals which the party once held sacred were abandoned and at best used as rhetorical speeches for Umno politicians with vested interest.
Be that as it may, the principles the party once believed in are still very much alive in me and that ironically made me realise that I can no longer serve the party which abandons its principles or ideals.
Never had I thought there would come a day that I would abandon Umno – the party that I was born into, the party that was selfless and instrumental in paving the way for the nation’s independence.
But seeing what it is today, the troubles it intentionally courted and the shenanigans its leaders involved in, I can no longer stay and pretend that all is all well and good.
Some may have seen or heard of my open support for Pakatan Harapan in the run-up to the recent GE14. But to those who have not heard or are unaware of my position and support, I would like to state clearly and for the record that I am officially no longer a member of Umno."