Aug 2, 2006

Umno division withdraws invitation to Mahathir

No invitation to open UMNO meeting, but "ceramah" still on.

Excerpt from The Star
Division chief Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin said when the invitation was made the division was under the impression that "any respectable leader" could be invited to open such meetings.

He said this was based on precedents in the past, such as when former deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam was given the honour to open Umno meetings although he had left the Cabinet.

He added that heads of Barisan Nasional component parties had also been given the honour to open Umno meetings in the past, including Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu (MIC), Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat (Sabah’s Liberal Democratic Party) and Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik (Gerakan).

The division was not aware that only ministers, mentris besar, supreme council members and division chiefs from Umno were allowed to open such meetings, Zahidi told a press conference here yesterday.

Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad had said recently that disciplinary action would be taken if the division persisted with its intention to invite Dr Mahathir.

Zahidi said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would now be invited to open the division’s AGM on Aug 27.

"But we are going ahead with the ceramah where Dr Mahathir has been invited to give a speech," he said, adding that the division was not going against party guidelines

He said the ceramah would be held at 10.00am on Aug 26 near Taman Beseri Indah.

"We do not want to disappoint Padang Besar folks who have been waiting to meet Dr Mahathir for a long time," he said.

Zahidi said it was not proper to restrain Dr Mahathir from airing his views.

"Even former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is still given the chance to express his views," he added.

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