Sep 10, 2008

Muhyiddin: I've invited Tun Mahathir back to Umno

Muhyiddin said the former prime minister wanted to help strengthen and rebuild the people's confidence in the party. "Tun wants to contribute and also rethink his position in Umno and we are happy to receive him at any time during this holy Ramadan. "But the decision to accept him back is entirely up to the supreme council," Muhyiddin said after chairing a Malay- sian Services Development Council Meeting.

Dr Mahathir left the party three months ago and urged others to follow him to pressure Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resign following Barisan Nasional's worst-ever electoral showing in March. Dr Mahathir had said that he would only return if there was a leadership change.

(Malaysiakini) Umno vice-president Muhyiddin Yassin said he has invited former party president Dr Mahathir Mohamad to rejoin Umno to help "fix the problems" afflicting the party.

“I persuaded him to rejoin Umno. He is considering it," Muhyiddin told reporters this morning after a closed-door meeting in Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian Services Development Council.

Muhyiddin is the third-most senior Umno leader after the president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Najib Abdul Razak.

Muhyiddin said Mahathir had invited him to his residence last Saturday to express concern over problems besetting Umno, following the party's unprecedented losses in the March 8 general election.

“I have not been in touch with him for a long time… (And) there was an opportunity for me to seek his views on many things, especially political development,” explained Muhyiddin.

“But of course his interest is to see how Umno, in particular in Barisan Nasional (BN), can be reinforced and strengthened in view of the post-general election (results)… and he expressed his concern about the state politics.

“I think he is concerned about what is happening and we assessed that he feels that things are not getting better by him going out (of the pary)."

Muhyiddin said Mahathir is very concerned about recent developments in Umno and BN and public sentiments about all that is happening today.

“So I told him that, in order for him to be able contribute more, maybe he should rethink his position in Umno...he left Umno, so it is better that he reconsiders rejoining Umno,” he said.

“I told him that if he wanted to fix the problems, he should come back."

Muhyiddin said he is waiting for Mahathir's aides to officially submit his membership form to the party.

“He agreed… but he was not so sure (whether) the supreme council will accept his application,” said Muhyiddin, who is also international trade and industry minister.

“I told him, the decision to leave Umno was (by) his own free will, (at the time) the supreme council accepted it. But there was a clause that we would be happy to receive him any time he thinks of coming back."

Asked if his invitation to Mahathir would be well-received by other Umno leaders, especially those who have been at the sharp end of Mahathir's criticism, Muhyiddin was confident this would not be an issue.

“When he left, many let him go with a heavy heart. I am sure they will now welcome him back to the party,” he said.

Mahathir quit the party on May 19 after expressing disgust with Abdullah's leadership. While he said he would return only after Abdullah had been replaced, the premier has since brokered a handover pact to step down in favour of Najib in June 2010.

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