WILL Datuk Seri Utama Mohamad Hassan, the Menteri Besar of Negri Sembilan, make a bid for the vice presidential post in Umno? I asked this because I thought he hinted of this possibility a few days ago. Or at least, that's what the newspapers reported.
And true to form, a politician would not openly declare his or her intention to contest such a senior position at an early stage. The Umno election will be in December, and there's the branch and divisional contests that they have to cross first before the big one.
Branch and divisional polls will take place beginning July, and they will be the precursor to the main December bouts. Translate this into everyday political life, it means that hundreds if not thousands of hopefuls will be trying to retain their posts or dislodge the incumbents.
Mohamad is a member of the Supreme Council but his statement suggest that he could make a move to a more senior position. He was reported to have said that it would be good to see many candidates bidding for the post.
The incumbents are Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Minister of International Trade and Industry, and Datuk Seri Ali Rustam, the Melaka Chief Minister. Former MB of Negri Sembilan, Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, won in the last contest but has since been disqualified after the party disciplinary board found him guilty of money politics.
Apart from Mohamad Hassan, word on the ground is that Umno Youth chief, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, is expected to make a bid too. He had publicly announced that he woiuld not be defending his present post in the party.
If Mohamad Hassan contests, he would be viewed as a fresh candidate, and could benefit from the present mood of change emanating from the ground. The former CEO of international automotive company distributing the Mercedes Benz, Mohamad may not yet be seen as a national leader, but the March 8 general election has no respect for such stature.
The momentum for change could push Mohamad through, though he may need to start making known his views on national and international issues. At the VP level, it would be important for candidates to be seen as having the credentials to be national leaders and not just chief executives of their backyard and states.
Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob is another name said to be eyeing the post. A few Cabinet Ministers are working on the numbers to see if they can garner enough support to mount a challenge. Don't forget that the incumbents too would defend their seats, unless they opt to contest for a more senior post.
Muhyiddin is keeping his options open but there's so much speculation about him making his move upwards. His statements and Press interviews have attracted much attention. Depending on which side of the political divide you are on, such statements can be very telling.
As for the top post, much depends on whether the challenger can get at least 58 nominations in order to qualify to try and unseat the incumbent. That, let me tell you, is not an east task. I'm not saying that it's impossible though.
In the coming weeks, every word or action will be scrutinised, especially by the 2,000-odd delegates who will determine national leadership at some level.