MERSING: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi feels that the two by-elections in Perak and Kedah will not be a distraction despite nominations to be held a day after the Umno party elections.
He stressed that people could then focus their full attention on the by-elections as by then everyone would have campaigned for their respective positions and the party election process would be over.
“I think this is good as the Umno members need not worry about the party and instead concentrate on the by-elections,” he said, adding that Barisan Nasional accepted the decision made by the Election Commi- ssion and was now making preparations to win both the by-elections.
Asked about the possible candidates, he said: “We are still thinking about it.”
Pressed whether the candidates will be from the majority race in the two areas, he said that it was not necessary as Barisan had a consensus about candidates contesting in an area.
“We do not field candidates who just take care of their own community. We need leaders who are committed and ready to serve everyone,” he said, adding that Barisan served everyone regardless of their standing in society and race.
Abdullah added that the chances for Barisan to win both seats were good but stressed that the campaign would need to be carefully planned.
Barisan, he said, has learnt from what happened in previous by-elections in Permatang Pauh and Kuala Terengganu.
He was speaking to reporters after touring the army’s special forces Camp Iskandar here yesterday.
After the event, Abdullah chaired a closed-door meeting with all state Umno leaders for about an hour.
In Miri, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said both Barisan and the Opposition have an equal chance of emerging victorious in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau.
The Barisan deputy chairman and Umno deputy president said the campaign period set by the Election Commission meant both parties would have enough time to campaign, and convince voters in the two constituencies of the party that could best represent them.
“I hope there will be a fair fight. Don’t tarnish the country’s image.
“I see that overall, the people in the country are still loyal to Bari- san. There are one or two issues we in Barisan must pay more attention to concerning the rakyat, but overall, the people are still with us,” he told a press conference yesterday when concluding his three-day visit here.