Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Aspirants wooing 2,500-odd delegates

IN THE next few months many Cabinet Ministers from Umno will be very busy - not just with official ministerial functions and meetings and seminars, but with campaigning to ensure their political preservation in what could be one of the most interesting contests in years.

I don't envy the diary-keepers of these ministers. Menteris Besar are no exception too, as do Chief Ministers. The PAs (personal assistants) and secretaries will have to juggle their bosses' time so that they can do their official duties and have some time to meet delegates for the March annual general assembly.

This diary juggling act will start immediately. It'll last between now and March when party elections are held. It's the longest-ever campaign period, longer than the one set for the general election even.

A few weeks ago, a Cabinet minister suggested that some people contesting in the Umno elections should perhaps leave the Cabinet or take leave if they are unable to cope with such a heavy diary. Easier said than done, this.

Looking at the long list of contestants for the various posts, I doubt if the Cabinet can have any substantial meetings because a good number of the Umno ministers are involved. Even deputy ministers are bidding for some seats, and they all are in it to position themselves higher in the food chain.

There are three bidders for the deputy president's post and eight vying for three vice presidential seats. Six of them are Cabinet members. The contestants could also be nine if another aspirant qualify should he get one more nomination to qualify.

Four other divisions have yet to stage their meetings.

Contestants for all posts are heavyweights in their own ways, and believe they stand as good a chance as the next fellow. They enter the ring knowing they have to fight for every vote and knows their targets well.

The elder ones are not going to walk away and allow the young Turks to take over without a fight. I expect the months ahead to be potentially bruising.

All eyes will be on the contest for the post of Deputy President. Pagoh MP Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin garnered the most number of nominations (92), having qualified very early during the divisional meetings.

His opponents, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib (Selangor liaison chief with 45 nominations) and Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam (liaison chief Malacca and Chief Minister with 46 nominations) had to wait till the last lap of divisional meetings to qualify to contest.

Muhyiddin, the International Trade Minister, may have been encouraged when he qualified very early (39 needed to qualify) and many thought he would win uncontested.

Blogger Kuda Kepang (Datuk Ruhanie Ahmad) ran an article in his blog two days ago saying that a hidden voice has been working behind the scene whispering advice to divisions to help ensure Muhyiddin is challenged, and not win the post uncontested.

Another blogger, Datuk Wong Chun Wai, the chief editor of the Star newspaper, too wrote a piece suggesting that Muhyiddin won't find it easy because he is seen to be over-critical of his party boss, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

That being so, especially when Muhyiddin is seen to be instrumental behind the move to make Abdullah vacate his post earlier than 2010, factions aligned to Abdullah worked hard to deny Muhyiddin a walk-in.

With 92 nominations (beating Mohd Ali's and Muhd Taib's combined total of 91), there seems to be a very big number of Umno grassroots leaders who agree with Muhyiddin on the issues he has been raising since the March general election.

Muhyiddin's challengers are no pushovers mind you. Mohd Ali have done well in Malacca, even though there is a school of thought who believe that he may be out of depth at the federal level. Others see Muhd Taib, who served Selangor well in his early years as MB of Selangor, may have expired his shelf life in high-end politics.

I suspect that delegates attending the March assembly would love to see such a contest, partly for their own personal bank accounts. I may sound cynical but lots of money will be used in the long campaign ahead. Everyone will be using money, only the amount varies.

I've heard of war-chests being amassed to prepare for the battle ahead. I recall talk that some funds allocated for the March 8 general election were not fully utilised, having saved some for the Umno campaign.

A sinister thought did come across my mind, and I can tell you that I'm not the only with such a view. The divisions wanted to see a contest for the top posts as this would enable them to 'earn easy money.'

There will be some 2,500 delegates casting their votes in March. For the contestants, these are the ones that matter. A big portion of those who voted in the divisional meetings have shown their preferences, meaning they are the real voice of the Umno grassroots.

The 2,500-odd delegates attending the March assembly may have other ideas. Their votes may not reflect the choice of the grassroots. That's why all the aspirants are now compiling names of the delegates. It's in their hands who will be Umno top bosses for the next three years.

I leave it to your imagination as to how the aspirants will woo these 2,500-odd voters.


Anonymous said...

You're right...there'll be plenty of cash changing hands among the delegates...a well known fact!
As they say, in politics(especially within umno!), you've got to learn that overnight chicken shit can turn into chicken salad! He..he..


Anonymous said...

The long campaign period is unnecessary. It leads to perception (misperception?) and speculation of massive vote buying.

What more with already 900 reports submitted to the UMNO disciplinary committee, all in just one nomination month!

What is worrying, for a fact, UMNO leaders in Government will be embroiled in politics and not focussed on governing/strengthening the economy/addressing the people's needs.

Besides, money politics is so rampant that the perception is that politicians from UMNO are most likely to be corrupt i.e. what we essentially get are corrupt Government leaders from UMNO!!

There is also the perception that UMNO members are insular. They do not care what others outside UMNO think of the party or its leaders. They would blindly elect leaders that are corrupt and incompetent so long as their (umno members) interests are served and in this case the perception is self-enrichment.

Lets take the run for the Deputy President's post for example. Compared to Muhyiddin the nomination of Ali Rustam, let alone Mat Taib, makes no sense. For a start both are non-MPs and disqualifies them for the post of Deputy PM. But most crucial, compared to the Pagoh MP, most likely Ali and Mat Taib wil not be acceptable to non-Malays, Mat Taib especially who is tainted by his RM2 million fiasco Down Under. And can you actually believe that someone who duped even his own Sultan deserves to be given the trust later on to be Deputy Prime Minister (god forbid)!!

UMNO members must be realistic. UMNO is a Malay dominated party, yes, but its responsibilities definitely, reaches beyond the ethnic boundaries and UMNO must be responsible enough to respond and own up to those responsibilities.

Otherwise be prepared to suffer the humiliation of defeat and an end to its once glorious track record at the next general election.

);-( Samurai

balan said...

The party elections should not have been postponed. The whole government machinery will come to a standstill until March.

Abdullah can still be the PM until March while Najib be elected the president in December. Nothing wrong with that, and later handover to Najib in March.

We are going to see the worse of UMNO in the coming months with the unprecendented competition for Deputy and VP.


Anonymous said...

Logically, muhyiddin should win. but in umno, anything can happen. mike tyson can also win, after all he got sackfuls of resources. muhyidin is a messenger trying to tell umno that they must change. but instead he was told off by abdullah. Dunia mana ada adil!


Anonymous said...

Baca tulisan you ni, nampaknya you sokong dan kempen untuk Muhyiddin?

Abu Kempen

Anonymous said...


do you think Najib will give any hint of who he wants to be his deputy? He may not want to tell it publicly but he must find a way to tell people who he wants.

also, it's not just who he wants, it's who he thinks is good for the country.

if ali or Mat Taib becomes number the 2, forget about the next general election. Youthink the BN components want to see Ali or Mat Taib as DPM?

alex ex-mca

Anonymous said...

Adoi...sedih betul orang-orang UMNO ni. Tak tau nak bezakan kaliber Ali Rustam dan Mad Taib dengan Mahyuddin. Tak kan lah pemimpin level negeri dan ahli politik yang di levelkan org Australia tak faham BAHASA (kitar semula)nak jadi TPM?
Malang sungguh Malaysia mempunyai parti seperti UMNO. Tu lah budak-budak muda cakap UMNO ni tak releven tak percaya, tapi lihat lahh

Org Bt 7

ChengHo said...

UMNO should appoint external auditor to audit the expenses of all candidates especially those whom hold a goverment position. these people going around all over contry under the pretext of official duty .
Every Umno div must establish their watchdog to monitor the movement of the delegates . the Watchdog must report direct to HQ disciplinary committe.

At the end of the day UMNO must change if they still practise elect the leader not based on meritocracy Umno have no future .