Friday, July 11, 2008


Abdullah to hand over power by mid 2010


Prime Minister Datuk Sen Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday announced that he would hand over the post of Umno President and Barisan Nasional (BN) Chairman to his Deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak by middle of 2010. He said the process of transferring the power had begun yesterday and that with the decision, he would not be leading the BN in the coming general election expected to be held sometime in 2012 or 2013. “I took the opportunity to inform the Supreme Council at the meeting just now that I have reached an agreement with Datuk Sen Najib that I will not be leading the BN in the 13th general election. “And this will also mean that we have to set in motion the process of transferring the power. I informed the Supreme Council that the process would begin with the announcement I’m making today. “...that I plan to hand over the (Umno) President’s post to Datuk Seri Najib by middle of 2010,” he told a news conference after a close- door special briefmg with Umno divisional leaders as well as leaders of the Party’s three wings — Wanita, Youth and Puteri — at the Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday. Asked whether there was any decision made to prevent contest for the Party’s top two posts, Abdullah said there was none. He hoped Najib would continue to be his Deputy until he handed over the power. “I feel that the relation is good. My intention is to strengthen the Party and continue with the programmes which we have planned, including pledges made in the election. “I would therefore be happy if my Deputy, by the time I hand over the post, is Datuk Sen Najib. This will be my tribute to him and I have chosen him to be my successor for I’m confident that he will be able to lead the Party,” he said. Abdullah said during the transition process’, both he and Najib would strive to consolidate the Party and restore the people’s support to a level even stronger than before. The Prime Minister said during the period he would also work extra hard in the effort to eradicate hardcore overty apart from implementing other programmes. Abdullah also expressed his gratitude to Najib for his Deputy’s willingness to accept his leadership proposal, which was well- received by Umno leaders at the close—door meeting with them giving it a standing ovation and thunderous applause. Asked why the year 2010 was chosen, Abdullah said the timeframe was sufficient for him to implement the various projects and programmes he had planned with Najib. “During the period, God willing, all programmes including the judicial reform and the move to turn the Anti-Corruption Agency into a full-fledged commission would have been completed,” he said. Abdullah said Najib also needed time to prepare for the leadership take-over and to face the next general election. Asked why he chose to announce the Leadership transition at this juncture, he said, “I think it is important that the process f handing over the power must take some :ime. During the period, Najib will also be Attending forums and meetings which I normally attend, representing the Government.” He said the period would also give Najib he opportunity to interact with leaders from other countries. The news conference yesterday, which was also attended by Najib, took place in a jovial mood, with Abdullah giving his Deputy the opportunity to speak, before both of them fielded questions from the media. The Prime Minister said he also appreciated the good cooperation and understanding he had with Najib on issues they both faced in the partyand Government. He said both of them had been members of various cabinet committees set up to address issues of national importance. Najib was also assigned to handle many other tasks and head various committees, he said. On the move to table a motion of no- confidence by Opposition Leader Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail in Parliament yesterday, Abdullah said the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president was free to move whatever motion and it would not affect the transition of power. Asked by the media why he was expressionless and did not look sad about his decision, Abdullah spontaneously reacted as though he was crying and later laughed together with Najib and several Umno leaders who were present at the press conference. “Well I feel bit of sadness. But I think there is more sense of achievement. I feel I was able to make a decision that is well received. That is what we want,” he said. The Prime Minister said the leadership transition in the party should be a smooth process which was welcomed by the party so that whoever took over would be a leader to the party as a whole and not just to a few or to his supporters only. “It’s normal that whenever there is a contest and someone wins there will be some who will be disappointed, it will be difficult for the loser’s group,” he said. As such, the power transition was the best approach and the party would not be in turmoil, Abdullah said. Asked whether the power transition was being made due to pressure by certain groups, he said the decision was appropriate and if there were pressure, this occurred some time back and there had been many opinions raised on the matter. “There were some who asked (me) to wait until the next election. Many opinions.. .But what is important is my feelings on this matter and I must hand over the leadership to my successor,” he said. Replying to a question whether the decision represented a victory to the opposition who wanted him to step down, he said: “I will face them. They want to get rid of me and BN. The opposition can say anything they like,” he said. He said this was the time to carry out the promises made to the people and not to engage in Party disputes and soon, where Umno was a responsible Party that was not easily diverted from issues faced by the people. Asked what he hoped Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah would do after the announcement yesterday, Abdullah said he left it to the Gua Musang Umno head to decide for himself. The Prime Minister said that he would not insist on the implementation of the projects that he had planned when someone else took over the Government leadership, adding that the new leader would certainly have his own way of doing things. “What is good is good and it does not mean that there cannot be value added,” he said. Abdullah concluded the 27-minute long press conference saying that he had made a decision and that he would not retract it. - Bernama

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