“Bring it on”: Zahid ready to face challengers for party’s top post

UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he is open to being challenged by anyone who aspires to hold the party’s number one position in the upcoming party election.

According to Zahid – who is also the Deputy Prime Minister and Rural and Regional Development Minister – this was to give an opportunity to about 160,000 delegates to choose the party’s leadership, especially for the positions of president and deputy president.

He further noted that it was up to UMNO representatives to make their own choices as well as to determine the direction of the party to ensure that UMNO remains relevant on the political stage.

“Absolute power is the power of representatives who represent their respective branches and divisions throughout the country,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama after attending the Rural and Regional Development Ministry (KKDW) mandate event.

Zahid said this in response to queries if the party’s two top positions would be contested in the upcoming election, which should be held no more than six months after the general election.

In the party’s election in 2018, Zahid was elected as president after defeating his two challengers, Khairy Jamaluddin and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, by obtaining 93 votes compared with Khairy (51) and Tengku Razaleigh (23).

“In the previous election (2018), I was challenged by two party members, but the result was in my favour. [I am] not being arrogant or boastful, but this was proven in 2018,” he said.

When asked if the party would invite any of the coalition parties in the unity government to the UMNO General Assembly (PAU 2022) next week, Zahid asserted that UMNO had taken a stand not to do so.

On Tuesday (Jan 3) UMNO secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan said only one motion will be debated at the PAU 2022 which will take place from Jan 11 to 14.

He gave two reasons for this: firstly, last year’s General Assembly will be held next week over two days instead of the usual three; and secondly, few UMNO leaders are currently ministers, which usually means presenting the motions directly to the delegates.

As for the agenda of PAU 2022 – which was postponed from last month – Ahmad said UMNO will be holding a special assembly on Jan 13 to introduce two amendments to the party constitution.

The first would be to automatically make all division information chiefs PAU delegates, including from those from the Women, Youth and Puteri wings while the second concerns membership revocation in line with the new anti-party hopping law.

PAU 2022 is expected to see the attendance of 5,523 delegates, including from the party’s three wings, as well as at least 675 information chiefs from 191 divisions nationwide. – Jan 5, 2023

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