KUALA LUMPUR – A key Umno leader, Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, has been removed as the chairman of state-owned public transport firm Prasarana Malaysia, a day after his controversial remarks at a press conference accelerated demands for his resignation.
At the news conference, Mr Tajuddin sought to downplay his absence at the site of the country’s first Light Rail Transit (LRT) crash on Monday (May 24), which left three people in intensive care. Prasarana operates Malaysia’s main suburban rail lines.
Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz on Wednesday issued a letter to Mr Tajuddin, informing the latter that his position as non-executive chairman of the firm had been terminated, effective immediately.
Mr Tajuddin showed up only on Tuesday to visit the crash site and address the media.
However, the tone of his press conference, which included him describing the crash as two trains “kissing” each other, drew the ire of Malaysians, with over 100,000 signatures gathered for a petition demanding his resignation on Wednesday.
He also snapped at journalists on Tuesday, warning them not to “provoke” him when questions were posed about calls for his resignation.
Mr Tajuddin is a supreme council member of Umno, the biggest party in the current government led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
Former prime minister Najib Razak, who is also from Umno, had earlier on Wednesday apologised on Mr Tajuddin’s behalf.
He said that Mr Tajuddin “regretted” his conduct, which included a racist jibe at a journalist, although the latter did not directly tender a public apology.
Najib also said that Mr Tajuddin would resign from his post when instructed by Umno.
Mr Tajuddin is also being probed by the authorities for failing to wear a face mask at the press conference.
Face masks in public places are mandatory in Malaysia, which is battling its deadliest surge of Covid-19 cases to date.
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