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Feb 24, 2008

PM: Stop protesting, my decision's final

Beh Lih Yi | Feb 23, 08 9:46pm Umno president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in an attempt to quell internal unrest, today warned party members to stop protesting against his decision to drop some incumbent candidates.

“I hope they stop these actions to protest against what is considered as the final decision,” he told a press conference after officiating the Rukunegara campaign at the Penang International Sports Arena this afternoon.

abdullah ahmad badawi bn batu maung penang candidate supporters protest 230208Asked if these protests would affect the party's chances, he said: "I hope there is no effect since tomorrow is the nomination day, followed by 13 days of campaigning. I hope the situation will be better then."

Abdullah, who is also the Barisan Nasional chairperson, was asked to comment on the discontent among the Umno grassroots over the party’s decision to drop a number key candidates in this election.

It was reported that protests have been held outside the Perak and Terengganu menteris besar's official residence by disgruntled Umno members.

Similarly busloads of Umno members had descended at the premier’s residence at Putrajaya yesterday to show support for their dropped candidates.

There was also high tension in Perlis yesterday when some Umno division leaders resigned and BN flags were tore down in the wake of news that Perlis menteri besar Shahidan Kassim would be dropped. Shahidan was eventually retained to defend his seat.

His brother, Ismail, who was announced as the candidate for the Arau parliamentary seat this morning however was dropped from the list three hours later in a dramatic turn of events.

Asked on this, Abdullah merely said: “I have told him (Shahidan) to stick to whatever that was agreed.”

‘This happens at every election’

The Umno president said he would not reveal what had transpired in his meeting with Shahidan and the two Perlis MPs Radzi Sheikh Ahmad and Azmi Khalid in Putrajaya yesterday.

shahidan kassim and perlis and bn and umnoAsked on whether there would be anymore last-minute changes on the candidates list, Abdullah replied: “I don’t think so”.

It is believed that the warring factions in Perlis - with Radzi and Azmi in one camp and Shahidan and his supporters in another - have come to an understanding in Putrajaya yesterday.

Although details are sketchy at the moment, it is believed that Shahidan would be stepping down in two years’ time and to be replaced by a neutral candidate, Syed Razlan Putra Jamalullail.

The seat for Shahidan’s brother - as with the first announcement - is said to be part of this deal.

abdullah penang function 230208 local umno protestAbdullah said it was normal that supporters would react negatively upon hearing that their leaders were not chosen to contest again.

“Sometime they over-react, sometime they come and see me quietly - all sorts of things happen. This happen every time when we have elections,” he said, just as a protest was held outside the venue by supporters of Penang’s Batu Maung state assemblyperson Mansor Musa.

Abdullah ignores protesters

About 30 of them, led by an Umno branch leader Ahmad Omar, held banners calling for Mansor to be retained in the seat. They rejected the new candidate, Norman Zahalan, whom they said they were unfamiliar with.

abdullah penang function 230208 abdullah carAbdullah’s car drove past the protesters when he left the building. (photo)

Meanwhile, on the possibility of a three-cornered fight in his Kepala Batas parliamentary constituency tomorrow, Abdullah said candidates are free to choose the seat they want to run.

Apart from opposition PAS, a yet-to-be registered students’ party have said they would field a student as an independent candidate to challenge Abdullah.

abdullah penang function 230208 press conferenceThe prime minister had earlier launched the Rukunegara campaign, carried out in a carnival-like atmosphere, in the presence of the outgoing Penang chief minister Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin and other Penang BN leaders.

There were about 6,000 people - mostly uniformed students - who turned up to cheer the PM.


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