Tension mounts as govt resists Umno’s call for EPF withdrawals

Tension is mounting in Umno over Putrajaya’s refusal to accede to the party’s demands to allow EPF contributors to make further withdrawals from their retirement savings, says a source in the know.

(FMT) – The issue has pitted Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his predecessor, Najib Razak, who is the Barisan Nasional adviser, against Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the prime minister.

“The president has made his stand on this very clear, he wants the EPF withdrawals allowed. Najib also wants the EPF withdrawals cleared,” said the high-level Umno source.

Their stand is backed by an Umno Supreme Council statement on Aug 27 that the government must accede to the requests of the people, including a one-off withdrawal of at least RM10,000 from their EPF account.

The source said Ismail had attended that meeting, together with Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan, who was later to become Ismail’s economics adviser.

Ismail has recently said the government will not allow further withdrawals, while Shahril’s backing of Putrajaya’s stand has seen him come under intense criticism on social media.

The Umno source said the problem was that “certain figures” in the government were resisting the push for the EPF withdrawals.

“Umno wants the EPF withdrawals, the president and the Supreme Council have made this very clear. This was discussed with the PM. We want the government to reconsider its decision,” said the source.

The source said the Umno-led government should listen to the party, as it is a grassroots party that knows the situation on the ground and what the people want.

“People are struggling and have been struggling because of lockdowns. They have been asking for EPF withdrawals even before the floods. So the government must listen.”

The source said there were growing concerns within the party’s ranks that Umno would pay the price for decisions made by Umno ministers in the government that are not in line with the party’s wishes.