(Updated 6:48pm; 19 March 2009)
KUALA LUMPUR, 19 March 2009: Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has described as “irresponsible and malicious” the statement by former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim on the country’s leadership transition.
He said the statement was clearly aimed at creating unease among Umno members in particular and Malaysians in general.
Muhyiddin said this in response to Zaid’s remarks yesterday in which he urged the Yang di-Pertuan Agong not to appoint Datuk Seri Najib Razak as the new prime minister.
Speaking at an event here yesterday, Zaid said that Najib’s appointment as the prime minister would divide the people.
Muhyiddin said Zaid’s statement was not helpful in uniting the people.
It also showed his opportunistic character, said Muhyiddin who is the International Trade and Industry Minister.
“I strongly deny Zaid’s claim that the country is in crisis over the appointment of the prime minister.
“The Umno leadership transition is progressing well and it has been proven that Najib has the confidence of Umno divisions to be the new party president,” he said in a statement.
Muhyiddin also said that it was clearly stated in Article 43(2) of the Federal Constitution that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall first appoint a member of the Dewan Rakyat, who is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the House, as the prime minister to preside over the cabinet.
“The Barisan Nasional (BN) is the party that commands the majority in the Dewan Rakyat, with Umno having the most seats among the BN component parties,” he said.
Muhyiddin said Najib’s appointment as the prime minister would unite the people.
“In this connection, I would like to remind the people and Umno members not to fall for Zaid’s propaganda which is clearly ill-intent, irresponsible and putting self interest above that of the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal described Zaid’s statement as devoid of logic as it had been the practice to appoint Umno president as the prime minister.
He said that the power transfer between Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib was progressing smoothly.
Mohd Shafie who is Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister said what was important was for the government to remain focus on the efforts to bring development to the people.
He was speaking to reporters after opening the National Craft Day 2009.
Earlier in his speech, Mohd Shafie said the craft promotion at the Harrods, London, had chalked up RM631,000 in sales since 25 Feb, with the batik traditional fabric being the best-seller.
He expects the sale to reach RM1 million at the conclusion of the campaign on 28 March.
In KOTA KINABALU, former Chief Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak described the call by Zaid as inappropriate and going against convention.
He said that although the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had the discretionary power to appoint the prime minister, it would be based on tradition practiced in the country for so long.
Salleh, who is Kota Belud Umno division chief, said Umno leadership had consented to the leadership transition between Abdullah and Najib.
“The issue of over Datuk Seri Najib’s appointment as the new prime minister should not arise.
“He will be the Umno president and BN chairman and according to convention, he will be appointed the prime minister,” he told Bernama.
Salleh, who is United Sabah Bajau Organisation (Usbo) president, also slammed Zaid for playing divisive politics at a time when Umno was facing party elections.
“It has been the practice among opposition parties to raise issues which they think will attract public attention, with the intention of smearing the good names of government leaders… it’s as though the opposition leaders were blameless,” he said. — Bernama