Thursday, February 14, 2008

“Nothing to do with that. We have forgotten about Anwar. I don't remember about Anwar”

Abdullah's secret
Husna Yusop

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 14, 2008): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has refused to be drawn into speculations on who will get into the list of candidates for the March 8 general elections, including on the fate of ministers and party component leaders.

"I have yet to get the list from the state liaison chiefs and party heads. Therefore, I cannot say how many of them will be retained and how many new faces will be nominated.

“It is important to make sure the candidates are credible and have the support of all parties. Umno, being the largest component party in Barisan Nasional (BN), will always show its commitment to BN’s struggle, consensus and cooperation.

“This is very important because it is the party which is facing the election,” he said, adding he will meet BN state liaison heads to discuss the list of candidates in the next few days.

Speaking to reporters after chairing an Umno supreme council meeting in the party headquarters today, Abdullah said he will consider the candidates based on merits and upon recommendations of the party heads and liaison chiefs.

On whether he will re-consider if a minister does not get nominated, such as in the case of Perlis, he said: “I will not comment until I have seen the list.”

Asked whether MIC president Datuk Seri S.Samy Vellu will be contesting or would follow the footstep of former Gerakan president Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik who bade farewell to his cabinet colleagues on Wednesday, Abdullah said: “I have not decided yet. When the list comes, maybe he will not put his name in the list, we never know.”

To talks that he was considering not having Samy Vellu in the list, he repeated: "I have not seen the list, I will not comment."

He said as far as BN is concerned, party chiefs would normally contest in the elections but, “if they don’t recommend their names, we cannot force them to do so.”

“Let me have a look (at the list) first. Stop asking me about if's because I have not seen the list yet,” he said, adding Samy Vellu or anyone else can say anything they want to the press but they might change their mind later.

When asked to comment on the longer period of campaigning, Abdullah simply retorted: “Don’t you (reporters) like it? The newspapers will get lots of news.”

Asked whether the early election date was to prevent Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from contesting, Abdullah said: “Nothing to do with that. We have forgotten about Anwar. I don't remember about Anwar.”

He added that the election date was not his say but that of the Election Commission.

"BN see elections in a bigger picture, a big challenge. We will not take anything lightly. We take everything seriously, big or small.”

Asked to comment on PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s readiness to contest against him in Kepala Batas, Abdullah said it showed that Abdul Hadi was not confident of winning in Terengganu.

He said based on feedback, there was hope that BN could topple PAS in Kelantan.

On seat-swapping, he said so far, he has not received any but if it is done based on mutual consent between two parties, it would not be a problem.

Asked whether he is meeting the Johor Sultan to discuss the elections as reported recently, he said he plans to pay him a visit because he has been ill for quite some time.

Updated: 06:52PM Thu, 14 Feb 2008