KUALA LUMPUR: Razaleigh Hamzah has announced that he will contest the lead role in Malaysian opposition party UMNO in the upcoming party elections on Jun 30.
The 81-year-old veteran UMNO leader, who is the Gua Musang UMNO division chief, announced on Saturday (Jun 16) his intention to be the UMNO president at a press conference at his residence in Kuala Lumpur. He said he arrived at the decision after scrutinising the position and situation of UMNO, especially with regard to its leadership.
“I made the decision in the interest of UMNO as a national political organisation that supports the national aspirations - upholding racial unity and harmony as the foundation of the nation. I am confident that I can continue upholding this tradition in leading UMNO as a political party rich in experience,” he said.
Razaleigh also said that he would ensure that UMNO played its role as an opposition party, loyal and responsible to the country in its move to be a developed nation.
"MALAYSIA HAS REACHED A POLITICAL MATURITY"
The Gua Musang MP, who has held the seat for 44 years, said UMNO would nurture Malay culture and heritage and respect the racial diversity in the country. At the same time, he said, the leadership at the lower echelons would institute changes to adjust the party to the political reality in the era after the 14th general election.
"It cannot be denied that Malaysia has reached a political maturity that we can be proud of. This political maturity demands politically mature leaders," he said. "The same goes for UMNO.
"As an active politician since becoming a member of UMNO in 1962, it is not too extreme for me to say that I am well-versed with the political intricacies of partisan politics and politics at the national level. I regard this as a test for anyone who wants to offer himself for leadership.”
Asked whether he was confident of winning the election for the No 1 post in the party, he said it was dependent on securing much support at the divisional level and the choice of party members.
He is expected to submit his nomination form at any time before the closing date on Jun 17.
This is not the first time that Razaleigh has contested the post.
In 1987, he challenged Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the post, but lost by 43 votes. In 2004, he offered himself as a candidate for the top post against Abdullah Ahmad Badawi but failed to secure the required number of nominations.
Razaleigh said he had no specific candidates for the other senior posts in the party because all candidates represented the party as a whole.
Asked whether he would sack former party president Najib Razak from UMNO if he won the presidency, he said: “Why should I do that? Unless there is something grossly wrong somewhere.”