UMNO president Datuk Seri Najib Razak declined to get involved in the discussion for the party’s three vice-presidential seats that is heating up.
He reasoned that to say anything about it would be interpreted in many ways.
All he hoped was for Umno delegates to choose the line-up that would strengthen the party.
“Whatever I say is going to be interpreted in different ways. So, I think I will just say that what is important is that the delegates choose the best possible line-up for the party which will strengthen the party and move the party forward.
“That is what I hope will happen as a result of the Umno elections,” the Prime Minister told the accompanying media at the end of his working trip to San Francisco and New York from Sept 22 to Sunday.
Najib was asked to comment on rumblings among Umno members that there was a directive from the party leadership for them to endorse the three incumbent vice-presidents – Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
On Thursday, Federal Territory Umno officials had to issue a denial that there was a directive for the members to vote for the incumbent vice-presidents at the Oct 19 party elections.
FT Umno deputy chief Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin had said that the “suggestion” to retain the three was raised during the gathering on Tuesday by FT Umno chief Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.
The three are being challenged by Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Paduka Mukhriz Mahathir and former Malacca chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam and former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Tan Sri Isa Samad.
Raja Nong Chik said it was still the delegates who had the power to choose their leaders.
Najib also expressed hope that the party elections would be seen as a clean and healthy process.
He said Umno members should play their role in ensuring that the electoral system brought about the transformation desired by the party.
The elections this time around, he said, banked on the integrity of the candidates to hold any position in Umno, regardless of whether it was at the national or divisional level.
Umno, Najib said, had introduced a new constitution which provided greater democracy to its members, which allowed up to 150,000 party members to elect their leaders.
“We are trying to see the effectiveness of the new election system,” he said, adding that so far, the election process was going on smoothly.
“The process must also be seen to be clean. This means Umno members have to play a role to ensure the election system truly brings about a transformation desired by the party,” he said.