(Updated 12:33pm, 18 March 2009)
MALACCA, 18 March 2009: Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam is appealing the Umno disciplinary board’s decision barring him from contesting for the post of deputy president in party elections next week.
“The appeal letter will be submitted today,” the Umno vice-president told reporters today at his residence, Seri Bendahara.
Present were his wife, Datin Seri Asmah Abdul Rahman, Malacca Umno leaders and his supporters.
Umno disciplinary board chairperson Tan Sri Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen announced the decision yesterday after the board found Ali guilty of involvement in money politics.
Ali said that if his appeal was accepted he would be able to contest the post.
He said he would also submit the appeal letter to Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Yesterday, Rithauddeen said Ali could appeal but made no guarantee that the appeal would be heard or resolved in time for the Umno polls.
Asked how he felt about the punishment Ali said: “I have emphasised to the disciplinary board committee that I’m innocent but the committee found me guilty, so I accept that with an open heart.”
“I received the decision after returning from Ipoh yesterday. I did not expect it but I accept it with an open heart.”
On the different punishment meted out to Khairy Jamaluddin, the candidate for the Umno Youth chief’s post who was let off with a warning, Ali said there was no need to compare because the method employed and the reason for the decision were also different.
Asked whether it was a conspiracy against him, Ali said he did not think so.
He added that he would definitely attend the Umno general assembly in Kuala Lumpur from 24 to 28 March.
“As a party member I will continue to sacrifice for my party no matter what, with my body and soul,” he said to applause from his supporters.
He thanked Najib for his statement that he would continue to be Malacca Chief Minister.
“I will also carry out my normal party and government duties. The decision will not affect my work to develop Malacca.”
Asked for advice for his supporters, Mohd Ali apologised to them for their being unable to cast their vote for him in this election after all the support and hard work that they had put in.
“I hope that they will remain calm. We have to defend our party which is facing many challenges. We also want to see a smooth transition of power to Najib at the end of this month or early next month.”
Asked whether the opposition would make an issue of the ruling against him, he said he would respond to whatever issue raised by the opposition.
Last night, about 150 Ali supporters met with Abdullah in their bid to get the disciplinary board’s decision reviewed.
The supporters, from several states including Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Perak and Penang, gathered at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Subang at about 9pm to wait for the prime minister who returned home from Indonesia at about 10.45pm.
Batu Gajah Umno division head Datuk Mohd Yusoff Kassim, when met by the media last night, said they had met Abdullah and expressed hopes that the party president would review the decision to prohibit Ali from contesting next week.
“We appealed to the Prime Minister to reconsider the decision to prohibit
Mohd Ali from contesting and he gave a positive response,” he said.
Mohd Yusoff said that at the meeting, which lasted almost 20 minutes, Abdullah promised to consider the matter and meet with Ali today. — Bernama