The contest for the UMNO wing positions are over. That is branch delegates' choice and reflect UMNO masses thinking.
There could be possible manipulation or flaw in the electoral process, but opinion within UMNO would rest upon the overwhelming electoral votes in favour of Dato Shahrizat and Khairy to lead Wanita and Pemuda UMNO, respectively.
Time to move on to the hotly contested UMNO Vice President race because there is a conspiracy theory to "korban" a Vice President being spoken in limited circle. The takbir Aidil Adha can be heard till Thursday but the UMNO "qurban" will only resume on Saturday, the 19th.
Most of the UMNO candidates will be busy with Hari Raya Qurban to visit their elderly ones or involved themselves with the qurban ritual. By tomorrow (thursday), there will be a political rally involving winners of the wings election and Vice Presidents.
All the three denied they are "rafting" together but the message being heard through their bloggers and mainstream media is the same. That is to maintain status quo.
The reason is not so much as they worked well together to organise the UMNO Annual General Assembly but strongly believed to use the Dato Ahmad Zahid's momentum to provide the pull factor for Dato Hishamuddin. Since saving only Hishamuddin could be seen as depriving the incumbent Vice President from Sabah, Dato Shafie Apdal, he tags along.
It could be the same "raft" to float Shahrizat since her NFC case could be resolved with it's sales and successful charge and lawsuits against member of Parliament from Pandan.
Khairy could be seen as part of wave of status quo but he is capable of floating by his own in Pemuda UMNO. With the wings represented at division delegates, Khairy could help float the raft for Hishamuddin and his statement carried by television has it's weight in votes.
After an event, Khairy was reported by TV to have said to the effect to support those that have been consistently performing and delivering rather than talking. It is similar to his campaign message against contenders Akramsyah, Karim, Syed Rosli and his late mother in law's nephew.
However, Joceline Tan see it differently. In her column [read here], she wrote:
Hishammuddin used to be Khairy’s boss in the party’s Youth wing but Khairy has become some sort of superstar after his spectacular win and the former boss is now turning to the former deputy for help.
The Youth and Sports Minister had turned up at the event billed as Rangkaian Sahabat (network of friends) to lend a boost to Hishammuddin’s campaign for a second term as Umno vice-president.
The word is that Khairy has thrown his weight behind Hishammuddin.
He has reportedly sent out word to his boys on the ground to support the Defence Minister.
Khairy made a spirited speech at the event, lauding Hishammuddin as a friend of the youth generation.
He also reminded the audience of how, in the political turmoil of 1998, Hishammuddin had to take over a fragmented Youth wing.
The then Youth chief, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, had been forced to step down while both the wing’s secretary and information chief had quit the party.
He credited Hishammuddin, who was Umno Youth chief from 1998 to 2009, for keeping the wing intact and for steering it back to calm seas.
This could very well be some sort of turning point for Hishammuddin, who has been struggling against all sorts of public perception about him.
Hishamuddin took leave to campaign. He has been meeting division people and have campaign machinery working their way down to the branches. He has neither spared any resources nor left any stones unturned.
He looks so desperate. If there is a new perumpamaan Melayu needed to describe a politician working hard to hold on to power, then "bagai Hishamuddin hampir hilang jawatan" would fit.
One can see Hishamuddin can be serious.
No more the Menteri Amaran but someone who could apply the levers of power and used his influence, to get his way around. It is like aristocratic gentlemen Mark Dacey telling Bridget Jones that we shag too.
As incumbent, we never believed Hishamuddin, whose been true thick and thin through the reformsi era, could falter. We were only ridiculing him for looking desperate and transgressing areas he shouldn't.
In UMNO politics, looking desperate and behaving like a loser will surely lead one in that direction.
Somehow it occurred to us that this could be more than a case of survival and addressing wrong perception. Hishamuddin did say that perception created by bloggers do not translate to the 150,000 delegates. They have a different consideration.
There is some truth. Exposing wrongdoings of opponents, corruption cases, and electoral abuse may not sway the delegates. Not even ideology or fiery words.
Like the divisional delegates of the past, the branch delegates look towards visibility, touch, and standing. More so, most are rather simple minded in their political consideration. This makes it difficult for outsiders and Hishamuddin has grasp that.
Thus the big bomb Hishamuddin was supposed to drop two days before party poll is his past and track record. Read Azhari Al Siddeq here.
This got us curious and thinking that Hishamuddin could be working towards more than his survival but to attain the top position among the Vice Presidents.
The motivation is simple.
Zahid's strategy had been known to stay put and wait for Tan Sri Muhyiddin to vacate his Deputy President and Deputy Prime Minister positions. The speculation is that he would make way or be pressured to leave by mid-term.
If an oft chance that Muhyiddin was to replace Najib, a totally Johorean Muhyiddin-Hishamuddin would not be possibble. Thus, Hishamuddin's aggressive campaign is to ensure that he not only remain within the top three but to assert his position as heir apparent to Najib by being the number 1 Vice President.
If it is not number 1, the least should be number 2. In the past, the number 1 VP are not guaranteed to be picked to be the number 2 man. Zahid could finish the highest but not become the preferred one for Deputy when the time comes.
Furthermore, Hishamuddin has more exposure in the "senior" Ministerial positions and Zahid had a tainted past for his link to Anwar Ibrahim's reformasi.
Could Zahid be the Vice President to be "qurban" from his pole position?
Not likely but Malay Mail Online here see Hishamuddin to get highest vote.
It is also not likely that Khairy's words are directed towards Zahid.
Khairy's entry into politics was at around the time of reformasi. He was working at Pak Lah's office and helping Hishamuddin as liaison between him and certain ANSARA boys. Effectively, Khairy was trained by these ANSARA boys.
While Joceline Tan interpreted Khairy's words as more for Hishamuddin rather than for Zahid, it could also be directed towards Dato Mukhriz Mahathir. With the help of Regina Lee, NST report here has the following extract:
Veteran Datuk Rahmah Abdul Hamid, 81, has found “experience” an important factor to consider when choosing the right candidate.
“Anybody looking to be elected into office should have served the party, starting out at the lower ranks,” she said, while voicing her disappointment at the entrance of Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir into the vice-presidency race.
“While I have nothing against him, I feel that Mukhriz has been pushed far too quickly up the ranks. He has not even served as division leader yet.
“Umno works religiously from ground to the top and if you have not spent time building the party or being a coolie, then you will not understand the sentiments of party members.”
She said Mukhriz should instead spend his time focusing on Kedah and get accepted by the people there first.
She pointed out that, in contrast, incumbent vice-president (Datuk Seri) Hishammuddin Hussein had his foot on the ground and knew the party’s ins and outs.
“He has been the Umno youth chief before, and he has moved up the ladder in a proper way, being groomed by the party.”
Obviously, it is just the natural instinct of Khairy's high expectation mother to lend a helping hand for his future. Old mother can be forgetful. Read comment by Bigdog here and Jebat Must Die here.
It was only last week that he said he has no problem with Mukhriz and could lend him support.
It can be concluded that her mother was merely echoing the words of her son and lending a hand to Khairy's bold negative campaigning against Mukhriz.
The timing is only right. Killing off Mukhriz serves to kill off the last surviving competitor in the 2009 Ketua Pemuda contest. Khairy will not have any competitor within a generation above and below him.
Mukhriz's announcement to run for VP initially created wave and put Hishamuddin into desperation mode. Some political observers believed that Mukhriz have given Hishamuddin a competition for the "quota" for sons of ex Prime Ministers.
Since then, realpolitik has sinked in and the campaign message is no more about the future GE14 but past achievement and sweeping past failures as mere perception.
Currently, many felt Mukhriz would be the "korban." He is not visibly seen campaigning and reaching out. Some political observer believed he is pulling the brakes. Maybe it is to prepare for the more important test of his leadership and that is the Sungai Limau by-election. [Read the Mole here.]
Some say it is weak machinery. Or it is possibly for other unknown reason.
If the old criteria to vote has sinked back in, then the popular reading is that he will lose. Maybe he is reluctant to soil his reputation.
Some Mukhriz diehards felt that only papers with picture of "kepala Agong" could deny him. The "kepala Agong" was heard to be passed around but as campaign expenses and petrol money. It is difficult not to when it is compensation lost of income for rural folks to attend political rallies.
However, without Mukhriz knowing, there are veteran leaders lending him a hand in the name of party rejuvenation. Some of these leaders may not necessarily be friendly with his father when he was in power. Some of them are Najib's men.
Frankly, there are no such son of PM quota, but Hishamuddin's team realise delegates could believe such quota like the existence of a Sabah quota.
They forgotten that UMNO used toclaim the existense of ulamak quota but no more now.
By moral standard, Shafie is the most gullible of all three incumbents.
He could be considered the biggest political liability among them for the simple reason that the rural grassroot in Sabah and Sarawak are upset with him
Within Sabah, Shafie is not popular with the grassroot for the failure of his Kementerian Luar Bandar dan Wilayah (KKLW) to deliver the basic rural infrastructure of road, water, and energy.
Already, he is not accepted to the Aman brothers dominated Sabah, which constitute a big chunk of electoral college votes.
In the past he had allied with Dato Dato Lajim Ukin and was involved in past financial scandal with Dato Yong Teck Lee and Dato Ambrose Lee. Dato Musa Aman had to rescue and turnaround the aftermath.
|Zahida's RM3 million home sans interior
There is also the brewing alleged scandal with model Zahida Rafiq that could be more than a second wife but a business and financial arrangement.
However, what happens in Sabah may not have any bearing in the manner Semenanjung branch delegates vote. With KKLW's huge budget for rural area development, it could yield political influence and support.
With KKLW's help, they are beginning to say "orang kita" in Sabah.
Not to be ignored, Shafie came from an UMNO/USNO family and is nephew of Yang Dipertua Negeri Sabah, Tan Sri Sakaran Dandai.
Without Shafie in the equation, two formula is being bandied around. One is Rocky Bru's 521 or as as we had called it, ZAHIM for Zahid, Hishamuddin and Mukhriz. Read Rocky here.
Another is ZAM ... Zahid, Ali Rustam and Mukhriz. It is an outside chance because there is not much expectation from the former Melaka Chief Minister because it is not easy to win a VP position without being a wakil rakyat.
Ali lost the Bukit Katil Parliamentary seat. He attributed it simply as the Chinese factor. But he made a grave mistake of taking two unacceptable state assembly candidate in the Bukit Katil's 4 state assembly constituents. That weigh him down to lose.
Nevertheless, Ali is not out of the political game. He was just appointed Senator and is now chairman of PUNB. A win could make him more relevant.
Compared to the rest, Ali has a head start in campaigning. He started early and his advantage lies in his years and years of personal "touching." That explains the attendance of 100,000 to his son's wedding.
Ali belongs to the Sahabat network and it helped catapulted his political career. There are those that dispute such claim but Ali is synonymous with the Hidup Melayu struggle. Until Khairy becomes PM, the Malay agenda remains relevant.
In 2004, Ali came second for Vice President. If not for the suspension, he was tipped to have beaten Muhyiddin for Deputy President in 2009. Discount Ali at one's peril.
Mukhriz is not lying to say that the strength of all candidates are equal or if not, almost equal.
Even without a political position, Tan Sri Isa Samad is no pushover. As told by one of his campaigner, the "Felda constituents" is a major advantage and he has nurtured that constituency/ies well.
They delivered for BN and the grassroot takes time to believe allegation of indiscretion in FGV in the purchase of United Pontian Plantation and other deals. It is too technical and lengthy to convince UMNO grassroot delegates. Isa can brush it off with his deft campaign touch.
Do not forget that in 2004, Isa came out ahead of Ali and Muhyiddin.
Some say he had the benefit as undi tong sampah or candidate to throw votes away but Isa's men claimed he was a serious threat to Pak Lah's political plan and was made the fall guy or "korban."
Today, Isa is Najib's trusted man. He returned to turnaround BN's post 2004 GE losing momentum. If it matters, his wife, Puan Sri Bibi Sharliza is close to Datin Seri.
If there is not such thing as status quo, do not discount Isa to make a surprise again. He has the "resources" and the most stealth and focused campaign operation. Just like Hishamuddin, he has got operatives working at the branches in his focused target areas.
The various winning permutations can be speculated but it is Najib's final words that matter. His preference will carry weight.
In his soft and gentleman way, Najib will signal the delegates as to who to be "korban."
Edited: 8:05 AM 17/10