03 April, 2008

Hisham not defending Umno Youth post ?

Hishammuddin Hussein today said that he would not be defending his Umno Youth chief post in the party polls in December, reports Malaysiakini.

Hishammuddin also denied that it was a party tradition for the deputy to take over the chief's place when a vacancy arises

"I have discussed and thought about it for a long time, but the time then was not suitable for me to make the announcement. But today the time has come for me to state my stand.

"After leading Umno Youth for 10 years, I have prevented disunity in the movement and it is in a good position and united," he told reporters after announcing the second report card of the Education Development Masterplan 2006-2010 here.

Bernama reported that Hishammuddin Tun Hussein was commenting on the readiness of Umno Youth executive council member Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir and Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Mohamad Khir Toyo to contest the post should he decide to vacate it.

The younger generation is demanding and hoping that we transform the youth wing and party. I believe that after leading the movement for 10 years, the time has come for me to make way for a new face," he said.

Asked why he decided to make the announcement today, Hishammuddin, who is also Education Minister, said, "This is a normal process, the only reason I am saying it now is because we have to move forward.

"We have to make changes and reform, we have to rebuild the party and the wing.

"If Pemuda (Umno Youth) is in a situation where they don't know what are my plans come December, that becomes a barrier for us to move forward. I feel that today may be the right time for me to tell them," he said.

Hishammuddin said the decision was part of his plan after leading the movement for 10 years from the time when there was a split in the party.

Hishammuddin, however, said he would not relinquish his Umno Youth chief post until December.

"But from now until December don't anybody feel that I am no longer the youth chief. I am still the youth chief until we go through the normal process.

"And I also have to ensure that the wing that I leave behind continues to be strong," he said.

Asked whether he wanted his deputy, Khairy Jamaluddin, to contest the post, Hishammudin said: "Not for me to decide, I can only decide for myself.

"And like I've said, now the issue that needs to be decided by Pemuda is to move forward and that is within my control and I can only answer that," he said.

Asked whether he preferred anyone in particular, Hishammuddin said,"I have will keep it to myself because I have only one vote."

He said whoever felt he was qualified to contest the post should abide by party procedures.

"We'll see how the delegates decide in December, otherwise how are we able to move forward to do what the people want us to do, and to redeem ourselves following the last general election results," he said.

Hishammuddin reminded Umno Youth members that their tasks ahead were to rebuild the party, to redeem themselves, and to listen to party members and the people at the grassroots level.

"We have no time anymore to think about positions, to go after this and that because our duty is to rebuild the party and restore party members' spirit especially in certain states," he said.

Hishammuddin said the rebuilding of the party should be done through transformation and regaining the support of the people on its struggle.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Thursday advised Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to be careful in making statements as he is now a leader of a state government.

He should not be a populist, Abdullah told Bernama after he had a 30-minute meeting with Guan Eng, who is also DAP secretary-general, at his office here.

Abdullah said: "I told him that we have been observing closely what is happening in Penang. I advised him that he is now the leader of the government there and that he should be careful in making statements."

Referring to Guan Eng's recent comments on the New Economic Policy (NEP), the prime minister said he should not be making sweeping statements that equated the NEP with corruption.

Abdullah said he could not accept such a sweeping statement as it would cause anger and misunderstanding which would be hard to undo.

The prime minister asked Guan Eng to eradicate poverty and ensure that there was growth with equity in Penang.

Abdullah said he also told Lim that the federal government would honour all its commitments, including several big projects, as planned in Penang.

"These are not show-off or mega projects. These are projects with specific objectives based on the needs of the people," he said.

On the construction of the Second Penang Bridge, Abdullah said national oil corporation, Petronas, would not fund it because all its revenue was passed to the federal government for development expenditure and subsidies.

Abdullah said he also asked Lim to expedite the acquisition and alienation of land for the construction of the bridge.

Referring to the open tender system based on a level-playing field proposed by Guan Eng, Abdullah reiterated that it may not be fair to groups that were disadvantaged.

The prime minister stressed that the tender process must be equitable.

Meanwhile, Guan Eng told reporters after the meeting that the federal government had assured that all major projects in Penang, including the Second Bridge, would continue as scheduled.

"It is the hope of all parties involved that the bridge would be completed on the scheduled time frame which is Jan 1, 2011," he said.

Guan Eng said the Penang state government would do whatever it could to ensure that the construction of the bridge did not hit any glitch.

However, he said, the federal government would not fund the construction of the second bridge using funds from Petronas.

"I of course made that suggestion, even if cannot fully, at least partialy (utilise Petronas funds), but he (Abdullah) said it is not possible. Even though I feel that Petronas should fund it, he told me due to the subsidies and other commitments, it is not possible at the moment as much as they would like to.

"The Prime Minister has given his assurance that the project will not face any problems. I also handed over a letter to him outlining several proposals stressing the need for continued development of the state.

"We have also asked that the allocation for Penang by the federal government be increased to the original level. Penang got a reduced federal government allocation last year. I hope to get a favourable reply to the letter soon," he added.

Guan Eng said the meeting also discussed not only future projects "but also things of the past".

Guan Eng said he also raised a few political issues with Abdullah "but I don't want to mention about it here."

"On the New Economic Policy, we exchanged views and clarification of what was said and what was not said. Certain things are claimed to be said by me which was not said at all but certain things which I said was not published at all.

"But what is important is that we accept the new political situation. He is the PM of the country and I represent the people of Penang," he added.

Guan Eng also said the Penang state government wanted to have cordial working relations with the federal government so that all the development projects that have been planned could be continued for the people's benefit.

"The people have made the decision to support a new government in Penang and also support the federal government. It is crucial that we together fulfil the mandate given to continue with the projects identified," he said.

Guan Eng also hoped that the federal government ministries would maintain their previous relations with the state government and not discriminate the state government just because it was Opposition-based.

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