Jerlun Member of Parliament Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, who has announced his intention to contest the post of Umno Youth chief, Sunday called for an immediate stop to attempts to restrict party members from meeting with leaders or candidates, saying they were contrary to the democratic practice in Umno.

He claimed that some Umno Youth members had been prevented from meeting with him while others had been disallowed at functions he attended.

“I see unhealthy elements (in the campaign for the contest for Umno Youth chief) in the form of restrictions. When I am invited to meet with friends in the divisions, certain (Umno Youth members) people are disallowed there.

“We can gauge the reason for this but the practice (of restriction) is unhealthy, more so when we practise a democratic system in the party,” he told Bernama in an interview, here.

Besides Mukhriz, former Selangor menteri besar Datuk Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo, Umno Youth vice-head Khairy Jamaluddin and Padang Besar Umno Division chief Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin have announced their intention to contest the post.

Mukhriz said now was the appropriate time for Umno to give ample opportunity to its members to get to know leaders and candidates going for party posts.

He asked how party members would be able to fulfill their responsibility of electing candidates of their choice if they were not allowed to meet with the candidates.

“This practice of restrictions should be discontinued altogether. Open up for all. Give the opportunity to candidates to explain their plans for the party,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said, the restrictions also favoured him in the sense that he was the underdog in the contest and had to go against the grain to garner the support of delegates.

On the whole, he said, his campaign in the run-up to the contest had received good response, especially after he had held meetings and interacted with Umno members at the grassroots.

“I notice that they share my views, that Umno needs a drastic renewal among the young people. My ‘Dare to Change’ campaign tagline has been accepted and is palatable to them,” he said.

He said he was confident of obtaining the necessary nominations to enable him contest the post.

Meanwhile, Mukhriz said he agreed with Finance Minister II Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop that Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s recent actions had slowed down the flow of investments into the country.

He said the main criterion to draw foreign investors was political stability and what Anwar had done was to confuse the people and the international community as well undermine the nation’s image.

“So, when we are seen as politically unstable and when compared to countries like Thailand and the Philippines, we lose out because many other countries strive to attract investors,” he said.

He said the appointment of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as the finance minister would help stabilise the situation because as a detail-oriented person, he would study any matter in detail before making a decision.

— BERNAMA