KUALA LUMPUR: Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has maintained his reluctance to contest for the Umno presidency, reiterating his call for the young to take up the challenge.
“As Umno president, one has to have the energy to travel and visit all the different constituencies.
“That is one of the reasons why I would rather have the younger generation taking up the challenge to lead,” he said at a post-general election forum at Kelab Sultan Sulaiman in Kampung Baru, a traditional venue of Umno events.
He added that the young should lead Umno as they were most likely untainted and had both integrity and credibility.
However, he did not explicitly reject the party leadership, saying he would consider it if there were enough calls for him to be president.
Tengku Razaleigh, popularly known as Ku Li, had recently acknowledged that his age might work against him in a party contest, saying he hoped the younger people would take the lead.
Nominations for the party election close on June 17, with voting taking place on June 30. The polls will be the first in almost three years, with Umno previously obtaining extensions of its election deadline.
Umno vice-president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi took over the duties of president following Najib Razak’s resignation after the May 9 general election. Vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein, meanwhile, assumed the duties of deputy president.
Zahid has announced his candidacy for presidency while Hishammuddin last week opted out of the election, saying he felt partly responsible for Barisan Nasional’s loss in the general election.
Also in the running for the presidential post is businessman, blogger and political analyst Rahmat Azim Abdul Aziz.
Supreme Council member Mohamad Hasan, who is the former menteri besar of Negeri Sembilan, meanwhile, has announced his intention to contest the deputy president post.
When asked about the possibility of Umno becoming a multiracial party, Ku Li said it would not happen.
“Umno will remain a Malay party. If we want to change, then we should change at the coalition level, but Umno will remain a Malay party struggling for the 60% of Malaysians.”
On why he thought Umno had lost, Ku Li said Pakatan Harapan’s victory was based on the image it had created as well as promises which he said it could not keep.
“It is impossible for the new government to keep its promises, such as bringing fuel prices down to RM1.50 a litre, abolishing tolls and allowing leeway for PTPTN borrowers to pay only when they have a RM4,000 salary.
“In these current economic conditions, these promises cannot be kept. (But) our own people (the Malays) believed them.”