New Straits Times, October 4th, 2008
ALOR GAJAH: Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said his offer to contest the deputy president post was not to force a speedier transition of power in the party.
Stressing that he was offering himself “in obedience” to the wishes of the party grassroots, Zahid said he respected the power transition plan which had been agreed between party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“I am not trying to force a change in Umno by considering to run for the deputy president post. Whatever change in Umno would eventually take place and I would allow the changes planned by the leadership to take its course.
“I am not trying to overtake other Umno leaders, but my intentions are based on my prediction that Najib would take over as Umno president from Abdullah once the transition takes place.
“Then, the No 2 position would be vacant, and I have been asked by the grassroots to contest for the post of deputy president,” he said, when met at his mother-in-law’s Hari Raya open house at Kampung Durian Daun in Masjid Tanah, here, yesterday.
Zahid said he would soon make an official announcement. He also revealed that he had received mixed reactions on his intentions to contest the No 2 post in Umno.
“Of course, there have been many positive reactions but there were also some who wanted me to contest for the vice-presidency.
“But I have stated my intentions to go for the No 2 post in Umno and it would be difficult for me to go back on my word.
“I would be meeting Umno members throughout the country after Oct 9 (the date on which Abdullah is expected to make an announcement on whether he would be seeking re-election).
“I want to gauge the situation before making an official announcement,” said Zahid, who was also a former political secretary to Najib.
Last Friday, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he would step down as prime minister much earlier than the planned date of June 2010, possibly by March next year.
Abdullah had said the party’s annual general assembly and polls had been postponed to next March and he would decide by Oct 9, when the 191 Umno divisions start nominating leaders for party posts, whether he would seek re-election.