PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s decision not to defend his Umno president post was lauded by his Barisan Nasional fellows.
It demonstrated he had put the nation and party first before himself, said Ummo Information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib.
“He is a man with a good heart. His decision reflects his intention to make sure Umno is not split during the election,” he said.
Muhammad Taib said that far from being a weak leader, Abdullah would leave a legacy of greater freedom of speech.
“From greater freedom in the media, to allowing for open criticism, even to permitting Members of Parliament to speak more freely, Pak Lah has done it during his tenure,” he said.
Gerakan is impressed with Abdullah’s sincerity and commitment to the country and Barisan Nasional, said its president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.
“We respect and accept his decision. The Prime Minister has initiated plans for reform, and he is determined to implement them before he officially steps down,” he said when met after the Barisan Nasional supreme council meeting on Wednesday.
MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu welcomed Abdullah’s decision to endorse Najib as his successor and said it was good as they were already working closely together.
“The Prime Minister’s announcement will ensure a smoother transition and help strengthen the nation. We will continue to give our full support to both Abdullah and Najib,” he said.
Penang MCA deputy chairman Lau Chiek Tuan said Abdullah had shown “responsibility” in stepping down.
“Barisan nearly lost the Government in the 2008 election and Abdullah bore some of the responsibility in his decision of stepping down.
“I think it’s the right step for the benefit of the country and he has heard the voices of the rakyat who mostly want power to be transferred quickly,” Lau said.
Penang MCA, he said, hoped unfinished projects under Abdullah’s rule would continue despite his decision not to defend his party presidency post.
“We hope his successor will continue several unfinished projects like the judiciary reform and the eradication of corruption in the country.
“Barisan has hope, but there needs to be a lot of reform and change,” he said.
In a short statement, Penang Gerakan chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan said the party respected Abdullah’s decision and hoped the transition would bring about changes in Barisan.
“I hope the process of power transition will be very smooth and for whoever chosen to take over the leadership will effect a lot of change in terms of policies and structure in Barisan to win back the hearts and minds of all Malaysians,” he said.
Penang Umno, which had earlier said it would nominate Abdullah for the party president’s post, has accepted his decision not to seek re-election.
“We met Pak Lah and told him that we would support him no matter what his decision is. It is his right to defend the party president’s post or give it up.
“We accept his decision with an open heart,” state liaison committee deputy chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Rashid Abdullah said.
Bukit Mertajam Umno division chief Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir expressed his disappointment saying that Abdullah had been made “sacrificial lamb by his own peers”.
“They blamed Abdullah for Barisan Nasional’s dismal performance in the general election but they forgot that Abdullah did not make all the decisions alone.
“Barisan and Umno leaders should equally share the blame,” he said adding that the committee could not stop any division which want to nominate Abdullah for the presidency.
State Umno secretary Datuk Azhar Ibrahim said he was sad that Abdullah was stepping down but had faith in Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak leading the country.
“Najib is the most qualified person to lead the country. I believe he has the ability to bring about political stability and unify Umno and the country,” he said.
Across the seas
Upko deputy president Datuk Wilfred Bumburing hoped that Abdullah would push through reforms he made on the Anti-Corruption Agency, judiciary and police.
“In Sabah, we hope that issues of illegal immigrants and the promise to stop the natural gas pipeline from Kimanis (in Sabah) to Bintulu be stopped,” he said.
Liberal Democratic Party president Datuk V.K. Liew said Abdullah showed courage and responsibility in not seeking re-election and informing Barisan leaders of his decision.
“LDP respects his decision and salutes him for being sincere and honorable in allowing a smooth transition of power.
“We wish to record our highest appreciation to Abdullah for being a leader who has been liberal and allowed democracy to flourish,” he said.
Parti Rakyat Sarawak president Datuk James Masing said Abdullah’s decision not to defend his position in Umno and to retire as Prime Minister in March “is a brave and wise decision which Umno and Malaysians must appreciate.”
“It means he puts the nation’s welfare first. It is a rare trait among third world leaders,” he said.
Parti Bersatu Sabah president Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan said Abdullah’s decision should be accepted and respected as “he made a stand based on certain reasons.”
“We will continue to respect and support Barisan Nasional and give it new strength so that Barisan can win the next general election with a bigger majority,” he said.
He said Najib had also assured them that Abdullah’s policies for the people in Sabah would be continued.
- The Star