Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is also Umno vice-president, has defended his deputy Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz despite pressure from within his own party for the Bersatu man to be punished.
This is after Ikmal Hisham wrote to Ismail asking for the senior minister to support his son to become a board member of Pharmaniaga Bhd, which is controlled by the Defence Ministry's Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT). The letter was leaked online.
Ismail said if Ikmal Hisham wanted to abuse his power, the latter could have bypassed him to get his son appointed.
“A lot of people claimed that he misused his power but if he had done so, he would have gotten his son into Pharmaniaga’s board already,” Ismail was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insight while campaigning in the Slim by-election this afternoon.
Yesterday, Ismail confirmed to Malaysiakini that he had received the letter, but said he did not proceed with the appointment due to nepotism concerns despite initially scribbling his support on the letter.
Ismail said people don't necessarily get their way even if he supported them. He maintained those appointed to government-linked companies (GLCs) are qualified.
Earlier, Umno Youth exco Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris had called on Ikmal Hisham (above, second right) to resign as deputy minister.
"This is a serious issue as today, we are talking about integrity. It is unfortunate that there is still a government leader who does not care and sells it for personal gain," he said in a statement.
The blogger known as "Papagomo" said the move will hurt grassroots support.
"It is only reasonable for the deputy minister to resign and permanently leave politics," he added.
Umno Youth deputy chief Shahril Hamdan took to Twitter to also criticise Ikmal Hisham's support letter.
"There is no justification for such a letter, what more when it involves family ties," he said.
He added that the government should stop appointing politicians to GLCs.
Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki also spoke out against the incident and stressed that the culture of support letters was no longer practised in Umno.