The Star, Friday October 3, 2008
By G. MANIMARAN
PETALING JAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is the first to throw his hat in for the Umno deputy presidency at the party elections next March.
“Yes, yes, I will be contesting (the deputy president’s post),” the Umno supreme council member told mStar Online yesterday.
Zahid pledged to fulfil the requests of party members if he was nominated for the post, and would make an official announcement after the nomination process.
He said he had decided to go for the post because of the current political scenario affecting the party and due to requests by the grassroots for him to join forces with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to lead the party.
“After the recent Umno supreme council meeting when (Umno president) Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced that the transition of power would be earlier, the scenario in Umno began to change,” Zahid said, adding that others then felt he should consider going for the deputy presidency.
Zahid, 55, is the Bagan Datoh MP and was Umno Youth chief from 1996 to 1998. A former political secretary to Najib, he was once also a close ally of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who was sacked as Deputy Prime Minister in 1998.
Zahid was made a deputy minister after the 2004 general election and promoted to the Cabinet after the March 8 general election.
Abdullah has stated that he will announce before Oct 9 if he would be defending his presidency.
Asked if he would team up with Najib, Zahid, who is the de facto Religious Affairs Minister, said nothing had been decided yet but added that he would make an appointment to meet the Deputy Prime Minister soon.
Zahid believed that he would be able to carry out the responsibilities of a deputy president based on his party experience.