“The question that needs to be asked is, why was the Armed Forces officers' mess used as the venue for a political agenda? “We are asking why was the ‘secret meeting’ not held at Umno headquarters at the PWTC (formerly Putra World Trade Centre, now World Trade Centre KL), which should have been rightly so? “Isn’t the political party’s own premises at PWTC safe enough for the meeting?” asked Patriot president Arshad Raji in a statement today.
Yesterday, Sinar Harian reported that 30 BN lawmakers attended the Sunday night secret meeting to sign a statutory declaration in support of the prime minister. An Umno source confirmed with Malaysiakini that Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob chaired the meeting at Wisma Perwira but cited a lower attendance of 26 MPs, including from MIC and MCA.
Padang Rengas MP Nazri Abdul Aziz confirmed today that the meeting took place at Wisma Perwira but clarified that the MPs had signed a letter of declaration instead.
Meanwhile, Patriot lambasted Ismail Sabri, who is also the defence minister, for allowing a political meeting to be conducted at the Defence Ministry's premises. “The veteran members of Patriot who retired at various ranks and files in the Defence Ministry will vouch that a defence minister ought to understand that the Armed Forces must not only remain apolitical at all times but also be seen to be so.
“By allowing a ‘secret meeting’ among political party members in an Armed Forces complex is certainly tantamount to having dragged the Armed Forces into the prevailing political quagmire. “This incident would have established a serious precedence for future political meetings to be held at the Armed Forces officers' mess,” Arshad said.
Citing the precedence, he further questioned if there would be anything stopping opposition political parties from holding meetings at the officers' mess. Patriot raised concern over whether the meeting on Sunday had the consent of the president of the mess committee, claiming that all activities held at the mess needed to be approved.
“The Armed Forces officers' mess is managed by a mess committee comprising serving members of the Armed Forces. All activities held at the mess must have the consent of the committee president. “Questions are now being asked whether the BN political meeting on Sunday night had the consent of the president. If consent was given, then the president had erred and certainly has incurred widespread odium among serving members of the Armed Forces,” Arshad said.