Friday, March 20, 2009

Call not to appoint Najib as Prime Minister is illogical, said Tun Mahathir

(Source - Daily Express)

Kuala Lumpur: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said it is illogical to call on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong not to appoint Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as the Prime Minister.

Commenting on the call by Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, urging the Yang di-Pertuan Agong not to appoint Najib as the Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir said, "He can say what he likes but he is just one person.

"Whether the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will listen to the opinion of one person will be up to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong," he said at a news conference, Thursday. Zaid, the former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, claimed that Najib's appointment would divide the people.

Dr Mahathir said: "The person who made this suggestion is not someone who is regarded highly or someone who is rational. If I were the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, I wouldn't even want to read about this. It's too stupid.

Who does he want to be?"

Asked whether he would fully support Najib's appointment as the PM, Dr Mahathir said, "I will give a full backing to Najib on condition that he must not appoint any of the corrupt leaders to his Cabinet."

He also commented on perception that Najib was corrupt.

"I'm not talking about what people believe. A lot of people believe about something but there is no legal stand taken on whether Najib is corrupt or not."

Asked on his choice for the Umno Deputy President's post, Dr Mahathir said, it would be Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the International Trade and Industry Minister. "I think what is left is somebody who is... well, could not read English and therefore he did something wrong in Australia. So my choice is Muhyiddin," he said.

The contest for the deputy presidency is now between Muhyiddin and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib.

A third candidate, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam was barred from contesting after the party's disciplinary board found him guilty of breaching party ethics. Dr Mahathir also commented on the statement by Mohd Ali that he (Dr Mahathir) had a hand in the recent decision taken by the disciplinary board.

Dr Mahathir said: "I wish I had but I'm not a member of Umno. If I had been involved, I would have thrown him out from the very beginning but I'm not involved. I have to very reluctantly wait for the Decision by the Board and I'm not completely happy with it."

He said that Mohd Ali should be treated the same way former Umno Vice-President Tan Sri Mohamed Isa Abdul Samad was treated in 2005.

"Isa was thrown out because he was involved in money politics but he also lost his position as a Minister. But here, we have a very strange decision.

He was found to be corrupt but he can remain as the Chief Minister (of Melaka). Now we have a person who is confirmed corrupt but the party accepted him as the Chief Minister.

Meanwhile Muhyiddin described as "irresponsible and malicious" the statement by Zaid on the country's leadership transition.

He said the statement was clearly aimed at creating unease among Umno members in particular and Malaysians in general.

Muhyiddin said Zaid's statement was not helpful in uniting the people. It also showed his opportunistic character, said Muhyiddin.

"I strongly deny Zaid's claim that the country is in crisis over the appointment of the Prime Minister. The Umno leadership transition is progressing well and it has been proven that Najib has the confidence of Umno divisions to be the new party president," he said in a statement.

Muhyiddin also said it was clearly stated in Article 43(2) of the Federal Constitution that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall first appoint a member of the Dewan Rakyat, who is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the House, as the Prime Minister to preside over the Cabinet.

"The Barisan Nasional (BN) is the party that commands the majority in the Dewan Rakyat, with Umno having the most seats among the BN component parties," he said. Muhyiddin said Najib's appointment as the Prime Minister would unite the people.

"In this connection, I would like to remind the people and Umno members not to fall for Zaid's propaganda which is clearly ill-intent, irresponsible and putting self interest above that of the country," he said.

Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal described Zaid's statement as devoid of logic as it had been the practice to appoint Umno President as the Prime Minister.

He said the power transfer between Abdullah and Najib was progressing smoothly. Mohd Shafie who is Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister said what was important was for the Government to remain focus on the efforts to bring development to the people.

Motion of Confidence???

The former Umno President also spoke on the possibility of a "motion of confidence" be tabled in Parliament to have Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi remain as Prime Minister.

"It's a possibility; it's not against the law. The law provides that to be the Prime Minister, you must have the support of the majority in Parliament but it does not say from which party.

"According to the constitution, the person who shall be made the Prime Minister is a person who has the majority support in Parliament. If you appoint somebody who has no majority support, he will be out," he said.

Dr Mahathir said there was nothing in the Federal Constitution which stated that the Umno President must be the Prime Minister.

"There is no provision. That is only our arrangement," he said, adding that legally, the current PM Datuk Seri Abdullah could continue serving his term until the next general election if he wanted to.

"But of course he may face a vote of no confidence in Parliament... he has a good chance of winning with the support of opposition members but he will become the Prime Minister of the opposition," he said.

Dr Mahathir said opposition members also had votes in Parliament and if they, together with some members of the Barisan Nasional, were to vote for Abdullah, "then he will be the PM."

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