Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has made an impassioned plea to the King to not appoint Datuk Seri Najib Razak as prime minister, and instead appoint someone else from Umno "to bring us back from the brink."
The former de facto law minister urged the King to used his judgment to appoint as PM someone who is "beyond reproach in his dealings both official and private," in a scathing attack on his former Cabinet and party colleague.
"A prime minister must have the confidence of the majority of the rakyat…For this to be the case there cannot be anything in the mind of the greater public that, correctly or otherwise, associates him with matters of criminality, wrongful action, improper conduct or abuses of power," he said in a speech to the Rotary Club here today.
(Malaysiakini) Sacked Umno veteran Zaid Ibrahim today called on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to make the correct choice - by not appointing Najib Abdul Razak as the country's next prime minister.
"These are difficult times. Malaysia needs a leader who will unite the country in the face of adversity. Divided we are weak.
"I am loath to say it but for the reasons that I have set out, I am compelled to say that Najib will most certainly divide us and in doing so, will nudge us closer to the edge," he said.
Speaking at the Royal Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur's weekly luncheon meeting, the former law minister said there are still well qualified Umno parliamentarians who could be appointed as prime minister.
"For King and country, I urge his majesty to take into consideration the prerequisites to the appointment and the concerns of the rakyat.
"There is no constitutional obligation on his majesty to appoint the president of Umno as the prime minister," he added in his speech titled 'If Truth be Told'.
Najib is slated to assume the prime minister's position later this month when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi steps down.
Save for the dawn of Merdeka, Zaid said, never in the history of this country has the choice of prime minister been so crucial.
Malaysia, he noted, is in crisis. "We are facing tremendous economic challenges with unavoidably harsh socio-political consequences. Our much undermined democracy is once again being assailed by those who would prefer a more autocratic form of governance."
"Our public institutions are hollowed out caricatures, unable to distinguish vested party interests from national ones, unable to offer the man in the street refuge from the powerful and connected.
"Our social fabric that took us from colony to an independent nation and on through the obstacles of nation building has reached a point where it sometimes feel like we are hanging on by a thread. This is the Malaysia we live in," he said.