UMNO elections, the mother of them all

Fauziah Ismail

UMNO’S Wanita, Youth and Puteri wings will go to the polls tomorrow to vote for their respective leaders and executive council members.

Some say the outcome of their elections can be used as an indicator as to what it is going to be when the top posts of the party are chosen about a week from now.

On the ballot to contest the Umno presidency at the party’s election on June 30, Gua Musang Umno division chief Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is No. 1, followed by former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin as No. 2, while acting president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is No. 3.

It is hardly surprising that Umno members and those following closely the party election have deduced three “teams” in the party’s leadership contest, basing it on their candidacy for the top post.

The official list released by Umno headquarters yesterday listed two other contenders for the top posts, namely Mohamed Iqbal Maricair from the Bandar Tun Razak division and Mohd Yusof Musa @ Jamaludin from Iskandar Puteri division, but these two are not notables in the party.

Political observers and party members that New Straits Times spoke to are convinced that Tengku Razaleigh is not aligning himself to anyone on the list of candidates vying for the various top posts, although there had been talk earlier of a “resistance” team, supposedly with him as the president.

“All the contenders are new to him and he has never worked closely with any of them. If they (the candidates) are sincere of the fight and are willing to go with his (Tengku Razaleigh’s) no-nonsense style, then he can work with any of them later,” one observer said.

He added that if Tengku Razaleigh won the presidency, everyone would be on a level playing field as “there will be no past issues or remnants of the teams post-party election.

“This would be a fresh start. It would be encouraging and a confidence builder for everyone.”

This, however, has not stopped anyone from still asking who his running mate will be and also those likely to be in his team.

Contesting the deputy president’s post is Umno Rembau division chief Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan (No 1. on the ballot) and Umno information chief Tan Sri Annuar Musa (No. 2).

Could Tengku Razaleigh’s running mate be Mohamad, although both have said that they are in the race on their own?

Or could it be a “Rembau’s Most Wanted” team comprising Khairy and Mohamad, where both are from the Rembau Umno division?

Again, Mohamad has denied being on anyone’s team.

Or, could it be a Zahid-Annuar tag team, as both have a long history together in the party and in the government?

Khairy’s announcement to contest the presidency was indeed a shocker. It was made a day after Tengku Razaleigh’s.

Before the 14th General Election, Khairy was heard saying that he would go for the deputy’s post in Umno.

After the general election, he said he was going to contest the vice-presidency, but now, he has put in his nomination for president.

Some quarters questioned his move, saying that Khairy was one of those who actually asked Tengku Razaleigh to contest the presidency.

“Yes, he was one of those who went to Langgak Golf,” a source said, referring to Tengku Razaleigh’s office-cum-home.

And on the very day that Khairy announced his candidacy for the top post in Umno, a line-up purported to be his went viral via the WhatsApp messaging system.

It listed names of those contesting in the party’s election, although, at that point in time, these names had not been officially or unofficially announced yet.

Naming itself “Pasukan Pembaharuan Umno Malaysia”, it listed Khairy as president and with the main posts being filled up, with the exception of deputy president, giving rise to the belief that neither Mohamad nor Annuar is his running mate.

Khairy’s so-called list comprised Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin as vice-presidents; Datuk Noraini Ahmad as Wanita chief, Senator Khairul Azwan Harun as Youth chief and Datuk Zahida Zarik Khan as the head of the Puteri wing.

Those in the party’s Youth circle said it was an open secret that Khairy wanted Khairul Azwan to take over the Youth helm from him.

As for Zahid, one senior Umno member described the acting president as “an old hand at this. He knows how it works and how to work it”, he said, without elaborating.

It has been reported that Zahid had made his rounds meeting division chiefs ahead of the party polls.

Annuar is seen as his running mate.

After all, the Ketereh Umno division chief had made statements backing Zahid in his capacity as acting president.

And almost everyone on the vice-president’s list had served in the cabinet with him.

It would hardly be a surprise also if Umno members are drawing up a “dream” team based on the official list, basing their choice on several factors, including age, experience, wisdom and “fresh but not necessarily young” faces.

Would a manifesto work to win the support of members?

“Look back at GE14. Pahang did not have a manifesto, but yet BN won there.

“What about the other states? You think it matters?” one Umno member asked.

Some members think that it would be an “eclectic” dream team, one with Tengku Razaleigh as president and Mohamad as his deputy.

Among the favourites to win the vice-presidency are Ismail, Khaled and Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani, although both Khaled and Johari lost in GE14.

Besides Noraini, the other contenders for the Wanita chief post are veteran Tan Sri Dr Siti Zaharah Sulaiman and Datuk Seri Azizah Mohd Dun.

The Youth chief’s post is being contested by nine members,
including fugitive Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos, but only Azwan and Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki
are being seen as serious contenders.

The Puteri chief’s post is a
two-way fight between Zahida and Nor Hazreena Mohamad Hashim.

And if numbers are to go by, No. 1 is said to be synonymous with being the best.

It not only symbolises the leader, but also confidence and strength. It is also the number of a loner and one who will not follow the crowd. It denotes individuality.

“I can say that No. 1 is an apt description of Ku Li,” said one Umno member, using the Kelantan prince’s moniker as a reference for the Gua Musang member of parliament.

No. 2 is said to be a lucky number in the Far East, symbolising partnership and representing balance.

However, it is also the number of conflict and opposition. The Pythagoreans, the school founded by the Greek philosopher, mathematician and astronomer Pythagoras, said the number two (the Duad) was the most unlucky.

Khairy may just debunk this theory, having come out with promises which may just endear Umno members to vote for him. But some have said that they are not going to fall for it.

And “3” is a digit that is said to be the number of good fortune. To the Pythagoreans, the number three is the first true number and is considered the number of harmony, wisdom and understanding. The expression “third time lucky” denotes that it is also a magical number.

It could probably be a good outing for Zahid, as some Umno divisions have publicly announced their support for his candidacy. Even the opposition parties have reacted positively to Zahid’s move to contest the presidency.

Selamat bersidang, Umno!

Source: NST Online

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