KUALA TERENGGANU, 9 Oct 2008: Deputy Prime Minister and Umno Deputy President Datuk Seri Najib Razak today offered himself as a candidate in the contest for the Umno presidency at the party elections in March next year.
“In accordance with the decision of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (who is not seeking re-election as Umno president), I, humbly and sincerely, wish to offer myself as a candidate for the Umno presidency,” he said at an Aidilfitri reception with Terengganu Umno Liaison Committee members and community leaders at Hotel Primula, here.
After Najib had made the announcement, at 4.10 pm, everyone present gave him a standing ovation.
Najib was accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor. Also present at the function were Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said, who is chairman of the Terengganu Umno Liaison Committee, and International Trade and Industry Minister and Umno Vice-President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Najib had arrived here this morning for a day-long visit to Terengganu.
Abdullah announced yesterday that he would not seek re-election as Umno president in the party elections in March next year, paving the way for Najib to contest the presidency.
The prime minister said he hoped that Najib would be elected the new Umno president then, and subsequently take over the chairmanship of the Barisan Nasional (BN) and helm the government as the prime minister.
The transition of power from Abdullah to Najib was originally planned for June 2010 but was brought forward to March next year.
Speaking to reporters after the function, Najib said that with the support of the party’s grassroots and delegates, he would continue with the agenda of Umno’s struggle with the reforms mentioned by the prime minister yesterday.
Abdullah had said that before he steps down as prime minister, he would table three bills in parliament to establish the Judicial Appointments Commission, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and a Special Complaints Commission.
On his announcement today, Najib said: “I believe that this announcement will ensure smooth functioning of the party’s democratic process as well as enable all Umno members to work together to further consolidate the party.”
He said that with the latest developments, he was banking on the trust and confidence of the people of all races, including party members and leaders.
He also expressed the hope that government officers and staff, members of the security forces, non-governmental organisations, academicians and corporate figures as well as the older and younger generations nationwide, including in Sabah and Sarawak, would place their trust in the BN for the coalition to further consolidate itself.
“Truly, the task as a leader is a trust and responsibility bestowed by God. God willing, I will carry it out to the best of my ability,” he said.
Asked who he thought would be the suitable candidate for Umno deputy president to work with him, Najib only said: “I will make my comment another day … another occasion.”
Asked about the possibility of someone else offering to contest the Umno presidency, he said: “What can we do? We subscribe to a democratic process. I respect the voice of the party members.”
On his hopes when he becomes the prime minister, Najib said: “I will only say that when the time comes because in the next six months, Datuk Seri Abdullah will continue to be prime minister and we must give him our full support to carry out the reforms that he has announced.” — Bernama