MASJID TANAH, Oct 3 - Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said his decision to contest the Umno deputy president’s post was based on his conclusion that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would take over the Umno presidency.
He said party grassroots members had asked him to go for the number two post should there be a vacancy.
have no intention of stepping ahead of any leader. My decision is based on my conclusion that Najib will take over the president’s post,” he told reporters at a Hari Raya gathering at his in-laws’ house in Kampung Empang Batu, Durian Daun, today.
Yesterday, Ahmad Zahid, an Umno supreme council member, made a surprise announcement that he was willing to contest the Umno deputy president’s post in the March 2009 party elections.
Apart from Ahmad Zahid, another leader, Umno vice-president and Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, has also announced his intention to contest the deputy presidency.
When asked whether his announcement came too early, Ahmad Zahid, 55, said it was necessary because the party’s divisional meetings would start next Thursday.
“Why should I delay the announcement? The divisions will start their nominations on that day... let the grassroots members decide,” he said.
He likened his move to someone flying a flag, saying, “One flies a flag so that others will see it”.
When told that traditionally the candidates for the number two post were from among those who had served as vice-presidents, Ahmad Zahid said, this was not always the case.
He said that there was already a precedent when former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman won the number two post even though he was not an incumbent vice-president.
Ahmad Zahid had won the Umno Youth chief’s post in 1996, a post equivalent to that of Umno vice-president.
On the response from party members after his announcement, he said, there were many who supported his move while others wanted him to contest the vice-presidency.
“But I’ve decided to offer myself (for the deputy president’s post). I find it difficult not to keep my words,” he said. - Bernama