Sep 29, 2008

Mukhriz urges Umno divisions to freely decide nominations

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — Umno Youth exco member Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir tonight urged state party leaders to let the divisional delegates decide the fate of candidates contesting in the party elections now rescheduled to March next year.

"Like in Sabah where a certain candidate was endorsed by the state youth leadership, but I read in Sabah newspapers that some youth leaders do not agree with the endorsement," Mukhriz told reporters when asked to comment on the action by several state Umno liaison committees to endorse candidates for the upcoming party polls.

"We know those who made the endorsements were appointed by the candidate," he added.

On Sept 23, Sabah Umno youth chief, Datuk Japlin Akim reportedly said his colleagues in the state youth wing would give undivided support to Umno youth vice chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who had announced his candidacy for the movement's top post.

Kelantan and Penang Umno had also endorsed party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to defend his position.

"Why should we fear the grass roots, let them decide, that is where our strength lies," said Mukhriz, who is also Jerlun MP.

Mukhriz, who launched his campaign to head the youth wing early this month, also doubted the legitimacy of the meetings conducted by the state party leadership before issuing endorsements.

"We know not all division chiefs attended the meetings," he added.

The son of the former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also expressed his concern on the implication of the postponement of the party polls to March next year and the possibility of Abdullah clinging to power.

"There are several scenarios. One is he still stands for presidency and Datuk Seri Najib defends his deputy presidency, then in March when Abdullah hands over the reins to Najib, he will be the acting president, so what happen when we have vacancy for the deputy president?" Mukhriz questioned.

He added that he is willing to support the postponement if the move is beneficial to Umno.

"If within three months the supreme council can bring back the support of the people then I am all for it, but if the delay is just to prevent members from exercising their rights, I urge the supreme council to reconsider its decision," he added.

On whether the delay was for Abdullah to win the contest Mukhriz said: "I can't say for sure, but we have to be prepared in the event that he decides to defend his post before the division meeting."

On his father's intention to return to Umno, he said Dr Mahathir has not submitted his application.

"I asked him which branch? I personally want him to return to Jitra branch in Kubang Pasu, but he is worried the division may not accept him, but my friends in Kubang Pasu want him to be in the division," said Mukhriz.

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