Sep 11, 2008

PM Abdullah says UMNO will decide on Tun Mahathir’s return

Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Umno will decide on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s return to the party. Earlier, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been persuaded to rejoin Umno after three months out of the party.

PUTRAJAYA: Umno will decide on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s return to the party.

Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the matter would have to be discussed and decided by Umno as “this is a party matter.”

“We have not discussed the subject. My views on this alone is not enough,” he said when asked to comment on a report that the former prime minister had agreed to rejoin Umno after leaving the party in May.

The report quoted party vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as saying that Dr Mahathir had expressed his interest to return to the party. However, according to Muhyiddin, Dr Mahathir was unsure whether his application would be accepted by the supreme council.

Umno secretary-general Datuk Tengku Adnan Mansor said the party had yet to discuss this as he had not applied formally.

“So far, all we have are Muhyiddin’s words,” he said.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim described himself as “the happiest person” that Dr Mahathir was planning to return to Umno.

“Tun (Dr Mahathir) plays an important role in the party. His views will give certain a perspective over issues and I am sure that his return will bring about a positive impact.

“I hope the process of him returning to the party fold is not delayed,” he said.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad said that as a Malay, the former PM had every right to rejoin the party.

“My principle is that Umno belongs to everyone and everyone should have the right to join Umno,” he said.

Asked if this meant that Dr Mahathir could continue to criticise Abdullah’s leadership from within the party, Shahrir said being critical and vocal of the Prime Minister had never been a “condition” against joining Umno.

“Maybe it was a condition back in 1987 when the party was dissolved and Umno Baru was established. But it is no longer the condition now.

“It’s better for him (Dr Mahathir) to criticise from within the party, rather than from outside. It’s good for him to be back, I welcome him.” he said.

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