PM stands firm: I’ll decide on transition

Posted by Penarik Beca Friday, September 19, 2008

The Star (18/9/08): Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stood firm, saying he would decide when to hand over power to his deputy, but a number of supreme council members said the understanding was for the transition to be sooner than later.

The Umno president said he was aware of the sentiments of the grassroots and was keeping his ears close to the ground.

“I am paying heed to what is happening and the current situation. And whatever decision I make, I will discuss it with Datuk Seri Najib (Tun Razak) and then bring it up to the Umno supreme council,” he said Thursday at a press conference after chairing a council meeting.

Abdullah reiterated that he would contest for the Umno presidency in the December party elections.Justify Full

He stressed that he had already made that clear at a press conference the previous day, noting that Umno divisions have not started their meetings yet and as the (country’s) leader he would continue to implement what was needed.

“And if I want to make another statement (on the transition at a later date), that’s up to me. I will discuss it with Najib. There is no need to keep asking about it like as if you don’t understand,” he said.

Abdullah is to hand over the Prime Minister’s post and Umno presidency to Najib in June, 2010. On Wednesday however, he said it could possibly be sooner.

That same day, Mubarak -- the association of former Barisan Members of Parliament (MPs) and assemblymen -- had called on the Prime Minister to step down as soon as possible and no later than Dec 16 this year.

Abdullah dismissed this call from the veterans’ association, saying “It’s alright. Let them say whatever. They are pensioners after all.”

Sooner, not later
Speaking to reporters after the Prime Minister’s press conference, Umno vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib said the issue of transition was discussed at length at the council meeting.

They said the council members did not propose a specific date but want it made as soon as possible.

“Many of us in the council voiced the views and feelings of the grassroots that want the transition to be done as quickly as possible, but we will give him room to discuss this with Najib,” said Muhyiddin.

Muhyiddin, who had recently called for an earlier transition, said his explanation as to why he had criticised Abdullah over the transition plan was well received by the Prime Minister.

“None of my colleagues criticised me either,” he said.

Muhyiddin said he had voiced out his views with good intentions and with no ulterior motive.

“We have to take the members sentiments into consideration so that when we face the next election, we can defend ourselves,” he said.

Muhyiddin added he would leave it up to Abdullah to discuss what would come next with Najib.

Muhammad Taib said some supreme council members voiced their views on the possibility of having the power transition plan brought forward.

“That’s normal. As the Prime Minister said, probably it could be done sooner. It will be left for the Prime Minister to discuss it with the Deputy Prime Minister,” he added.

Another supreme council member Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin said the views in the council were very balanced and Abdullah was very calm when he listened to them.

“It’s not just a question of leadership but more of the party, the transformation, the direction, the unity at all levels,” he said.

He said Abdullah stressed that there would be flexibility in the period of the transition.

“What we decided before is the year 2010 but with flexibility it just means something before that,” he said, adding that he believed that Abdullah would contest the presidency.

Abdullah also that four members would be sacked from Umno for supporting the Opposition during the March general election.

“One is from Beluran and another three from Beaufort. Letters will be sent out to these members. Appropriate action will be taken against them,” he said.

Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the members would be dismissed because they became candidates contesting under the Opposition banner.

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