KUALA LUMPUR, Jun 23 – Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has finally agreed to participate in the Umno Presidential Debate which will be telecast live over Astro Awani channel on June 29.
However, Ahmad Zahid who is currently carrying out the duties of party president said he would only debate from Bagan Datuk as he had to be with his delegates that night for the election process the next day.
“If it is not meant to split Umno into two or three, then I am willing to be in a telecast from Bagan Datuk as I have never neglected my people,” he said in an interview in the programme 100 Hari Malaysia Baharuon Astro Awani here last night.
Ahmad Zahid, who is one of the three candidates vying for the post of Umno president on June 30, had previously said he would not participate in the debate as he felt the party’s internal problems should not be discussed in public.
The other two other candidates are Umno Youth head Khairy Jamaluddin and Gua Musang Member of Parliament Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah are scheduled to appear in the programme Debat Presiden Umno for one hour beginning 9.30pm on June 29.
In a related development, Ahmad Zahid said he would not cast aside his two challengers if he obtained the mandate as president in the party election on June 30. The Bagan Datuk Member of Parliament said Khairy’s and Tengku Razaleigh’s views were important to revive the party.
“If I am given the mandate, I will not cast these two people aside, I will bring them along with me to revive the spirit of Umno, to build up strength in the new Umno brand,” he said. Ahmad Zahid said he was determined to eradicate money politics and the warlord culture which had become part of the party for 40 years.
Commenting on the strategy that Umno, now an opposition party, would use after its shocking defeat in the 14th General Election, Ahmad Zahid said the party must immediately change its government DNA to that of opposition in its moves and activities.
Admitting that this would be an uphill task, he said: “The time for sadness, nostalgia has passed, Insya Allah, Umno will be revived as a new political organisation with a changed political scenario”. — Bernama