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Badawi confirms that he will handover PMship to Najib - malaysiakini

Malaysia Insider reports:

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi today rubbished speculation that he intends to stay in office even after Datuk Seri Najib Razak takes over as Umno president next March.

There has been intense speculation in recent weeks fuelled by remarks made by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that Abdullah planned to stay on as prime minister even after March.

Dr Mahathir, who has styled himself as Abdullah’s chief critic, has been stepping up his attacks against the prime minister, suggesting recently that Pak Lah planned to stay on in the government.

Responding to this, Pak Lah said he would stick to his promise to leave office.

Under the power transition plan hammered out with Najib, it was agreed that the deputy prime minister would take over the helm soon after becoming Umno president in March.

“I do not see any reason why it should be brought up,” said Abdullah today after chairing the Barisan Nasional (BN) supreme council meeting.

The BN chairman said the ruling coalition would be holding a special convention next February ahead of the Umno polls a month later.

He expressed confidence that BN would not in future suffer the kind of setback like it did in this year’s general elections, when it lost its traditional two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Since then, the opposition has formed its own coalition in the form of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) which is being positioned as a strong rival to BN.

This and other challenges prompted the idea of next February’s special BN convention.

Abdullah said today the BN convention would include discussions on the findings made after the disastrous March 8 elections.

“Steps have been taken to identify the people’s views, the election results.

“We gathered views from NGOs. So it took us sometime. It was done carefully and seriously to understand the views,” said Abdullah after chairing a three hour BN supreme council meeting.

“We are listening, and we are responding,” said Abdullah on the message conveyed by voters in the last election.

In a clear reference to accusations that Umno’s dominance of BN had led to its relatively poor electoral performance, the PM gave particular emphasis to the fact that the findings by the committee set up by the coalition comprised the views of all component parties.

“This is not an Umno committee but a committee made up of component parties, and the results have been presented to the BN supreme council,” said Abdullah.

He was also asked whether Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir’s remark on vernacular schools was discussed at the meeting, to which Abdullah said, many sensitive issues were brought up but declined to elaborate.

“We are open, but we understand that as we are in a big party, we practice collective responsibility,” said Abdullah adding that the supreme council did not go into details of the sensitive issues.

However, Abdullah said the government had no plans to amend the Internal Security Act, in response to the suggestion made by PPP president Datuk M. Kayveas for the law to be reviewed.

Kayveas had recently threatened to take PPP out of BN should the government fail to amend the law by the next general election.

“If that is their choice, what can we do,” said Abdullah on Kayveas’s threat.

Malaysiakini report when it is out.