JELEBU, 12 Oct 2008: Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir’s popularity in garnering 29 nominations as of yesterday for the post of Umno Youth chief shows that party members are yearning for a leader who can bring change, Foreign Minister Datuk Rais Yatim said today.
Rais, who is Jelebu Umno division chief, said Mukhriz’s presence was beginning to be felt, and he hoped it would be for the good of Umno.
He said he was surprised at the number of nominations garnered by the son of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“This reflects the view that young Umno members want change and he (Mukhriz) is seen as a champion,” he told reporters after opening the Jelebu Umno division meeting.
Rais said Mukhriz had proven at an early stage that he did not need the support of family members in the party to become a leader.
Mukhriz had 29 nominations as of yesterday. Khairy Jamaluddin had 13 and Datuk Seri Mohamed Khir Toyo had six.
Rais reiterated he was offering himself as a candidate for one of the three Umno vice-president posts which another Negeri Sembilan leader Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad was also vying for.
“Some people say one state should only nominate one candidate for a post. That is idealistic but the constitution allows for more than one candidate. Otherwise, how are we to make a comparison,” Rais said.
He also reiterated his stand that Umno’s electoral quota system should be replaced.
“Some quarters say that the president, deputy president and vice-presidents should be elected by every member eligible to vote,” he said.
On the proposal by Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for the Barisan Nasional (BN) to set up a BN Club, he said it would be a good move towards establishing a multiracial party.
“But I feel we have to discuss the pros and cons of the proposal because direct membership can weaken Umno. People may join BN and neglect Umno,” he said.
He dismissed the possibility of a multiracial Umno coming into being in the near future, saying Malaysians still harboured strong racial, religious and ethnic feelings. — Bernama