Mar 18, 2009

UMNO : Ali Rustam calls for calm, to appeal decision

Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said he accepted, with an open heart, the party’s disciplinary board decision that bars him from contesting the deputy president position although he had refuted any wrongdoing when he was hauled before the committee. He also said he would appeal the decision by end of Wednesday. He also apologised to his supporters, urged them to be calm and close ranks for the sake of party unity.

(Malaysiakini) Umno vice-president Mohd Ali Rustam has urged his supporters to remain calm in the wake of the party's decision to bar him to contest for the deputy president's post for alleged money politics.

He also added that he accepted the decision made by Umno disciplinary committee yesterday, but maintained his innocence by denying any wrongdoing.

The Malacca Chief Minister is expected to meet party president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today to discuss this matter.

Talking to reporters at his official residence in Malacca this morning, Ali Rustam said he would be appealing to the party supreme council.

"I reiterate that I am not guilty (of money politics). I hope the supreme council will accept my appeal today. I hope my intention to contest will be allowed," he said.

The appeal is then expected to be forwarded to the party's appeal board and it is uncertain if the board can decide on the matter before party polls later this month.

Yesterday the party's disciplinary committee chairperson Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen Tengku Ismail said Mohd Ali was disqualified from running for the post after three of his aides were found guilty of vote-buying.

He said that Mohd Ali's political secretary Saadun Basirun and two other agents were found guilty of being involved in vote buying.

No other details were however revealed. Saadun and the other two Mohd Ali's agents were suspended from the party for three years.

Mohd Ali's party membership however was not suspended.

Supporters met Abdullah

Following that a group of Mohd Ali's supporters had gathered at the Royal Air Force base in Subang last night to appeal to Abdullah to reconsider the decision.

The group, numbering some 150, was waiting for Abdullah's return from his official visit to Indonesia.

According to one Mohd Ali supporter, the premier had agreed to meet Mohd Ali today.

Earlier yesterday another group of people had gathered in Ipoh - where Mohd Ali and other candidates were in a meet-the-delegates session - to show support to the embattled vice-president.

A smaller group of supporters had also protested when the decision to bar Mohd Ali was made at Umno headquarters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The party supreme council - the party's highest body- is expected to hold an emergency meeting today but this could not be confirmed.

Before the decision to bar Mohd Ali from contesting was made, the likeable candidate was seen by many as being able to score an upset by winning for the powerful deputy president's post.

His stars have been rising in recent weeks amongst the delegates and many had speculated that he would be able to knock off the other two candidates - vice-president Muhyiddin Yassin and information chief Muhammad Muhd Taib - to be incoming president Najib Abdul Razak's deputy.

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