Friday September 12, 2008 MYT 5:04:22 PM
By JANE RITIKOS
KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin says he was being sincere and frank, and did not mean to hurt the Prime Minister’s feelings when he said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should rethink the transition plan for him to step down in 2010.
The Umno vice-president felt responsible to convey the concern expressed by many quarters that the timeframe for the transition was too long especially with the current position of Umno and Barisan Nasional.
He is also prepared to bear the risks of making the call and said he was not afraid if “heads would roll”.
Muhyiddin was quoted as saying in Singapore on Wednesday that the transition plan had “sunk away” and that people were not thinking about it anymore.
Speaking to reporters Friday at the opening of the China Guandong-Malaysia Business Conference, he said many felt that something had to be done to ensure Umno’s survival.
They felt that much had been done by the Government to regain the people’s faith but people were still not ready to accept it, as though Umno had lost its credibility.
“We are no longer able to convince the people, and this is a serious matter,” he said, adding that the obvious concern was that if this went on Umno and Barisan would lose in the next general election.
As such, he said one step to put things right was for Najib to take over earlier.
“He has the strength and capability, and with support from other leaders and Barisan we can make a proper plan to regain the people’s confidence,” he said.
Muhyiddin said he had no personal motive or self-interest. He said he did not intend to undermine the Prime Minister nor disrespect the supreme council’s endorsement of the plan.
“Whether it is well-received or not by him is up to him (Abdullah). What I am saying is legitimate although some may say it is harsh but it is better to accept reality,” he said.
“I feel responsible to voice this concern because no other person in Malaysia seems willing to talk openly about it and this is something that affects many of us,” he said, adding that it was up to the leadership to decide if he had committed a wrong.
“I only speak the truth. I am not a hypocrite. I have done my job and it is up to the leaders and party whether they feel it is in order or not.
“Most importantly what do the people feel about the plan? Do they think it is okay? I think many people think it is not okay,” he said. To a question he said he was willing to meet Abdullah. “Our relationship is fine,” he said.
On when Najib should take over as president and automatically as Prime Minister, he said the transfer of power should be decided by members and not the supreme council.
“More importantly it must be accepted by the people. It has to be in the interest of the people. If the people do not accept it, the plan means nothing to them and they will reject us and we will lose,” he said, pointing out that even Najib had just said the plan should be endorsed by delegates at the Umno division meetings.
The division meetings, Muhyiddin said, was the best time for members to think about the transfer of power, but he added that he would not “provoke them”.
On whether he was ready to take on the number two post, he said it was up to the delegates. “I want to build back the confidence of the people. I don’t know what I can do but the people are expecting something to happen. I am just trying to do what is best for the party.”
On Wednesday, Muhyiddin said Abdullah should rethink his transition plan to step down by 2010 as the timeframe was too long.
Muhyiddin was quoted as saying that the transition plan revealed by the Prime Minister two months ago had “sunk away” and that people were not thinking about it anymore.
Under the transition of power, Abdullah is to hand over the post of Prime Minister, the chairmanship of Barisan Nasional and the presidency of Umno to his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in June 2010.
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