Nazri supports call for Ismail to take over as BN chairman

Nazri Aziz says there are several reasons why Ismail Sabri Yaakob should be appointed the BN chairman.

(FMT) – Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz has backed Annuar Musa’s call for Ismail Sabri Yaakob to take over from Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as the Barisan Nasional chairman, giving several reasons why this should be done.

Nazri said that as Umno’s prime minister candidate for GE15, Ismail will be leading the party on the campaign trail and should be given the authority to grant the letters of candidacy (surat watikah) to BN candidates.

He said there was always the “threat” hanging over Umno members, whether in jest or fact, that they could not speak out against the party president for fear of not being appointed candidates in elections.

“It’s only fair and right that, to get rid of this threat, the chair of BN should be given to Ismail, as the prime minister who has been appointed by the Supreme Council to lead the party in GE15,” he told FMT.

“And when it comes to the BN chair, we cannot assume that only Umno can decide on who should be the chairman. The responsibility is shared with the other component parties – MCA, MIC and PBRS. And each party has one vote.”

The former law minister also said it was right for the party to appoint Ismail as Umno president since he was the prime minister now.

Nazri pointed out that, in the past, several figures had become deputy prime ministers first and then were later “endorsed” and appointed the party’s deputy president.

“This has happened in the past with the appointment of several deputy prime ministers, like Tun Mahathir (Mohamad), Ghafar Baba, Pak Lah (Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) and even Najib Razak himself. So these are precedents,” he said.

Earlier, former BN secretary-general Annuar Musa said it was time for Ismail to be made BN’s chairman and GE15 election director, after the Bera MP was named Umno’s prime minister candidate for the upcoming general election.

But Umno Supreme Council member Tajuddin Abdul Rahman warned that there was no guarantee Ismail would be prime minister after GE15 despite the party’s decision.

The Pasir Salak MP cited the Johor state elections last month, where BN’s menteri besar candidate Hasni Mohammad ended up not being appointed to the post.

With that said, Nazri described what happened in Johor as “an anomaly”, believing that this would not repeat with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong post-GE15.

He also conceded that, at the end of the day, it was the Agong’s prerogative as to who should be appointed to lead the nation, adding that BN would always respect the king’s decision.