Najib: I never interfered with Umno administration; Zahid free to lead party

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
Najib says Ahmad Zahid has full authority over the direction of Umno. ― Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 — Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today denied interfering with Umno since stepping down as party president.

He said the new leader has full authority over the direction of the party.

“Since I left as president I have not interfered in the administration of Umno, Zahid is very free to decide,” he said referring to party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

“I am backing him as president giving full cooperation but I am entitled to defend my policies and to clear the misconceptions and some of the manipulation of facts and figures.

“I think to be fair, self-defence is a right given to any individual and citizen that’s why I’m exercising my rights to explain,” he said.

This comes after former tourism minister and Umno former supreme council member Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz who suggested that Najib distance himself from the party.

Nazri had said this would allow Zahid to lead Umno as party president freely and without interference.

Najib also defended his statements aimed at the government, saying it was still his duty to do so as an elected member of Parliament.

“I’m a member of Parliament and I will speak in Parliament because that’s my duty; I’ve been voted in by the people,” he said.

Najib said among the misconceptions he felt the need to defend himself over was the real figure of the national debt, of which he refuted the RM1 trillion figure mentioned by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“For example, the national debt needs to be explained; it’s not RM1 trillion, it was RM686 million when I left.

“The so-called RM19 billion missing; I believe it’s not missing and I’d like the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) to do a full investigation and come up with a report as soon as possible,” he added.

He then compared the current situation to Dr Mahathir’s first spell as Prime Minister, saying he never questioned his leaders’ decision and trusted their judgements.

“In the era of Dr Mahathir, when he quit we never questioned the things he had done even though there are things that we don’t agree.

“But now, they want to find our faults so my responsibility is to defend myself.

“As far as the Umno administration is concerned they are free to do as they deem fit and I will support the decisions of the new leadership,” he added.