UMNO Vice-President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should rethink his transition plan to step down by 2010 as the time frame was too long.

The transition plan revealed by Abdullah two months ago, he claimed, had “sunken away” and that the people were not thinking about it any more.

“The year 2010 is too long,” he told a news conference on the sidelines of the Forbes Global CEO Conference here.

Under the plan for transition of power, Abdullah is to hand over the post of prime minister, chairmanship of Barisan Nasional and presidency of UMNO to his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in June 2010.

Muhyiddin said he had even asked Najib whether he wanted to wait that long as he (Najib) would have little time to manage and bring the confidence of the people back to UMNO and BN.

Saying that he had always been critical of the matter as it was of interest to all Malaysians, he asked Abdullah to rethink it.

Abdullah had said the transition plan was to strengthen UMNO solidarity and put party members at ease following too much politicking after the last general election which the BN won by a simple majority in Parliament.

Asked on speculation that he would team up with Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to mount a challenge for the UMNO deputy presidency and presidency respectively, Muhyiddin replied, “Like you said, it’s just speculation.”

The speculation arose from a meeting between Muhyiddin and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the latter’s house in Cyberjaya last Saturday, where Tengku Razaleigh was also present.

At the meeting, Mahathir voiced his intention to rejoin UMNO which he left last May.

Muhyiddin said although Mahathir had left UMNO, he was still talking a lot about the party, particularly on ways to strengthen it and bring the people’s confidence back to the party.

He said it was a good move by Dr Mahathir and believed that it would be welcomed by UMNO members as it would put the party back in high spirits.

However, he said, he had no idea to date on Abdullah’s reaction to Dr Mahathir’s intention to rejoin UMNO.

Muhyiddin said, “We have to be very open about it and Dr Mahathir’s views are still well sought after, and he could contribute by strengthening the party.”

On a statement by PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim last night that his target date of Sept 16 to form the government may not be achieved and his subsequent retraction today that the plan was again on track, Muhyiddin said, “He is always (doing a) “flip-flop” in his actions and he is just playing around to attract the attention of the people.”

Even from the very beginning, Muhyiddin had said that he did not believe in Anwar’s plan to wrest control of the government.

And as a politician who had been in the game for a long time, he said he knew that it was not a trend among politicians in Malaysia to cross over in large numbers. Muhyiddin said Anwar was always good at “moving the goal posts” to suit his objectives.