SHAH ALAM, 9 Oct 2008: Umno information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib today offered to contest the party deputy president post at the Umno elections in March 2009.
Muhammad said his decision stemmed from his desire to assist the Umno president to restore and strengthen the party which struggled for the interests of the Malays.
“I base my offer to contest the No 2 post on my record of loyalty and service to the party and government,” he told a news conference at the Selangor Umno headquarters here.
Muhammad was confident that he would get enough nominations to enable him to contest the No 2 post.
“I’m quite confident the members will support the person with the highest degree of loyalty to the party,” he said.
Muhammad, who is also Rural and Regional Development Minister, said he had received encouraging feedback from party members me met about his intention, and also pointed to the state Umno leaders present at the news conference to indicate their support for him.
He said party grassroot members should be given the freedom to choose whom they wished to fill the party’s top posts.
Asked whether he had the full backing of all the 22 Umno divisions in Selangor, he said at the state Umno liaison meeting on Monday, he was assured by the committee the divisions’ full support for his candidature.
If nominated, this will be the first time a candidate from Selangor will be vying for the party’s No 2 post, and the liaison committee feels that support must be given to Muhammad, who also heads the committee.
Asked whether a contest for the No 2 post would cause a split in the party, Muhammad said the post would be left vacant because the incumbent (Datuk Seri Najib Razak) would move to the No 1 spot.
He said the party members knew their leaders’ personality and what they wanted was that the No 1 and No 2 could get along, otherwise it could be detrimental to the party as what had happened in the past.
“When there’s compatibility between the party president and his deputy, there’s unity which could add strength to the party and government which is vital for economic development, giving comfort and happiness to the people.”
Muhammad also disclosed that Selangor Umno had made a decision to support Najib for the party president post.
“I am offering compatibility in party leadership…my track record is that I’ve never fought my boss but that does not mean that I am a boot licker. For me, there must be calmness in the party.
“As the Chinese saying goes, ‘two lions cannot be on the same hill’. I want to be the No 2 lion to complement the No 1 lion, who is our leader,” he said.
Meanwhile in KUALA LUMPUR, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has had a change of mind and now will only go for the Umno vice president post at the party’s upcoming elections.
Ahmad Zahid, who prior to this had stated he wanted to go for the deputy president post, said he was doing so (altering his decision) in the interest of party unity and out of respect for Najib.
“I appeal for support and nominations from the grassroots during the divisional delegates meetings for only the vice president post.
“I also wish to state my support and undivided loyalty to Datuk Seri Najib, who has the confidence of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to take over the leadership of Umno,” he said in a brief statement issued here today.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also an Umno supreme council member, thanked all quarters for understanding the reality of the current political situation, whichrequired sacrifices from members for the sake of party unity and strength. — Bernama