KUALA LUMPUR, 24 March 2009: Vote with the rest of the country in mind, Umno delegates were told as the party prepares to elect a new leadership that will also form the country’s leadership.
Outgoing Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told delegates this in a closed-door, pre-council meeting today attended by the party’s leadership and delegates at the Putra World Trade Centre.
He said delegates should have “the right attitude” when electing their leaders and set aside their differences.
“I told them the right attitude will ensure that the elected leadership will give confidence to the party and the people. Leaders who will be chosen are not just for the party members. Umno also has a huge role in the government and the country,” Abdullah said at a press conference after the pre-council meeting.
Historically, the Umno president becomes the Malaysian prime minister while the deputy president is appointed deputy prime minister.
“Therefore, the confidence of the rakyat is also important. If Umno has the people’s backing, it can continue its struggle and fulfil the country’s agenda, especially to revive the economy,” Abdullah added.
The pre-council meeting is held before the official opening of the party’s general assembly. It is a chance for the party president to address delegates in private without media scrutiny. The president will still give a public speech at the opening of the assembly on 26 March.
Abdullah said his final address to the delegates in private was “a short one, less than an hour” because he wanted to focus on speaking about the party elections.
He said there were no more issues with the transition of power to his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak as everyone now understood the matter.
Abdullah still has not announced the date when he would step down and pass the mantle to Najib. However, it is widely speculated to be 3 April.
“There are people pressing me to set a date but I know what I want to do,” he said.