Umno can no longer waste time defending its former president Najib Abdul Razak, said party secretary-general Annuar Musa.
He also described Najib, who is facing seven charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering, as “baggage” that Umno can ill-afford to bear.
“We must continue this journey. We are not going to wait. We are not going to waste our time defending Najib.
“We in Umno cannot carry this baggage forever. There must be a cut-off. It is entirely his (Najib’s) responsibility,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
Annuar's scathing comments come in the wake of Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi stating that Najib should still be respected.
Zahid was responding to former minister Johari Abdul Ghani, who said Najib should not have been allowed to campaign in the run-up to last week's Sungai Kandis by-election.
'Najib is one person, nobody is indispensable'
Meanwhile, Annuar said Umno should focus its efforts on rebuilding the party as it is more important than any individual.
“Najib is one person, no one is indispensable. Najib is no longer the president of the party. To me, he is just a party member. Whether people support him or not, it is immaterial.
“The party is more important than any individual. Najib has already relinquished his position and now the party is under a new administration. We are going to do it the new way.
“We are not going to wait for Najib to settle his cases in court,” he added.
Prior to Umno's defeat in the 14th general election, Annuar (photo) was among the vocal defenders of Najib with regard to the 1MDB scandal.
However, the Ketereh MP appeared to distance himself from the issue now.
“As far as we are concerned, what happened with 1MDB has got nothing to do with the party. The party is not part of the decision, the party was not consulted and not informed,” he said.
He also explained that Umno leaders were duty-bound to defend Najib in the past as he was the prime minister and party president.
“I think it is simple. Najib was the prime minister and he was the president of the party. When some controversy crops up, we have certain basic ethics, practice and also tradition.
“There was a principle of collective responsibility and tendency to give the benefit of doubt to the top leadership over certain matters,” he added.
Umno's decision was to campaign without Najib
On Najib campaigning in Sungai Kandis, Annuar echoed Zahid in stating that it was the BN candidate Lokman Noor Adam who invited the former prime minister to do so.
“We checked, and it was our candidate who invited him. We did not stop him (Najib) because he is a party member.
“...to say our main strategy was to make Najib the chief campaigner is totally wrong. That, I can assure you, was not our strategy.
“Our decision was to campaign in Sungai Kandis without Najib,” he added.
Lokman was defeated by PKR candidate Mohd Zawawi Ahmad Mughni in the by-election and he polled just 38 percent of the votes cast.