JAN 9, 2004 FRI

Malaysian leaders back Najib as new deputy PM

Contender Muhyiddin says he is not upset by Najib's appointment, while PAS leader hopes new DPM will usher in new era in democracy

PUTRAJAYA - Umno Vice-President Muhyiddin Yassin is not disappointed by his failure to be No. 2 in the Malaysian Cabinet.
The man who says he is not the type to rebel or be easily shaken supports Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's appointment as deputy prime minister.
He is among the Malaysian politicians who believe the new DPM is the best person for the job because of his experience in politics and government since 1976.
A banner hoisted by the Pekan District Council hailing the appointment of Najib. - New Straits Times picture by Azmaidi Abidin
Tan Sri Muhyiddin, who is the new agriculture minister in the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was a contender for the No. 2 slot.
He told reporters on Wednesday that he was not disappointed by Datuk Seri Najib's elevation by the Prime Minister.
He said: 'I have always believed in takdir (fate) and that it is the right of the PM. As politicians, we must have the right mental frame of mind so that we will not be disappointed.
'See, I am smiling. I'm not the type to rebel or menggelabah (be easily shaken).'
Tan Sri Muhyiddin also urged his supporters to give their full support to the Prime Minister and his newly appointed deputy.
Malaysian Chinese Association president Ong Kah Ting said the party will work closely with the PM and DPM to fulfil the aspirations of the Chinese and other communities.
'Together we will realise our vision of becoming a fully developed country and a truly united people,' he said. Datuk Seri Ong also expressed MCA's confidence in Datuk Seri Najib's experience as a defence minister who had held several ministerial portfolios.
That experience will assist Datuk Seri Abdullah to boost Malaysia's position as a model of a modern and progressive multiracial nation, he added.
Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) chief Abdul Hadi Awang wanted Datuk Seri Najib to usher in a new era of vibrant democracy.
He said: 'There must be more space for human rights and freedom of speech, which is now given to only one side.
'If the criticism is wrong, then the government can defend itself. If the government is wrong, it can take corrective measures.'
Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi, who congratulated the DPM, was also asked by reporters whether Datuk Seri Najib's appointment was a signal that the general election was around the corner.
His reply: 'You have to ask the PM. In my opinion, it does not necessarily mean the election is near.
'Even if the general election is far away, the PM still needs to appoint someone to help him manage the country.' -- The Star/Asia NewsNetwork, New Straits Times

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