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PRIME Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said yesterday he is not distracted by party and politics, and remains focused on running the country.
“No, I don’t. As for me I have my own work in both party and government. Party members are free to give their opinions but that doesn’t distract me.
“If I’m distracted, we would not have achieved 8.9% GDP growth in the second quarter, we wouldn’t have been able to reduce unemployment from 4.3 to 3.8%, and our trade figures wouldn’t have surpassed RM2 trillion,” he said.
Ismail said this when asked if he felt his administration is being distracted from the day to day tasks and is ignoring the possibility of a poor global economic outlook next year, with so many things going on in his party and government.
He was also asked if he felt being pushed around, in light of statements made by fellow party members, including party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who wants the general election held soonest.
Ismail said everyone in Umno is entitled to voice his or her opinion including the president.
“Everyone make statements and our party celebrates diversity in opinions,” he said during a question and answer session with several foreign correspondents and Bernama in Putrajaya yesterday.,
“I respect the views made by the party president, deputy president, vice-president and other leaders in the party. However, whatever final decision will be made by the top five leaders in the party,” he said.
On the question whether he will vie for the party president’s post, he said his focus now is to help the party win the election.
“If the party loses, there’s no point in contesting any position. When the time comes, I will think about it,” he said.
Ismail also said in other nations the president or the prime minister is not necessarily the leader of the party like seen in Indonesia, where Joko Widodo who is just an ordinary member of the Parti Demokratik Indonesia-Perjuangan and the president is Megawati Sukarnoputri. The same goes for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“This situation is not unusual in other nations. Maybe this appears odd in Malaysia as it happened for the first time.
“As for me, I’m the prime minister, and I am the party’s vice-president. Although I’m not the president I still want to see the party win and form the government.”
Meanwhile, on whether the big corruption scandals in the country painted a bad image for the nation, he said, “it is true corruption could affect the country’s image if it continues. It will also deter investors from coming to the country”.