PREDICTABLE, UNBELEIVABLE AND OUTRAGEOUS! ALL IN ONE WEEKEND!
I’ve been asked to give my views on UMNO’s first nomination week by a highly respected gentleman of journalism.
Though I may not represent the majority on ground zero, here’s my take on it.
1. Yes when one person is preferred by the outgoing chief and that person is also the current Deputy President of UMNO, it’s a given that people will line up and slobber all over his hand and pledge loyalty. So it’s no surprise that Dato’ Sri Najib wiped the floor last weekend with the nominations.
2. Yes when a strong, experienced and senior political candidate for Deputy President was hauled up by the Presumptive Nominee for President and within 48 hours withdrew his candidacy, it is a given that the latter wants an easy path for a more deserving candidate whose tireless and risky effort has accelerated the impending departure of the incumbent President and will complement him with his support. True enough, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin later pledged his full support for Dato’ Sri Najib as President leaving Tengku Razaleigh out in the cold without really discounting him completely. No surprises with the majority of the nominations going to Muhyiddin.
1. When Dato’ Mukhriz Mahathir who was almost reduced to being a cry-baby for not being able to reach and meet members of the Youth-wing around the country suddenly had an explosion of nominations from the same, it raised eyebrows as the ones flying high prior to nomination week were Mr Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar and Dato Seri Mohd Khir Toyo. Could it be true that Mukhriz is indeed as popular as even he didn’t realize or is this a political illusion?
Note: I wonder if Mukhriz will be as vocal under Najib, now that they are in the same team. I wonder if Mukhriz was vocal before more because of his allegiance to the Nation or his loyalty and love for his father. I wonder if Khairy would play the reversed role of Mukhriz if he wins and doesn’t have his father-in-law as his guardian but the backing of the Youth to propel him. A usually concurring Youth leader serves no purpose. It is proven in the last ten years.
1. When Dato’ Sri Hishammuddin Hussein, perceived to be a non-starter due to his infamous ordeal with the Keris that should have stabbed him instead of the Party, obtained nominations in almost all of the divisions completed leaving more worthy politicians behind by double-digits, it looked obvious that he had a helping hand from a “concerned” relative. Either those who nominated him were (a) high on some mind altering substance, (b) easily forgetful or “mudah lupa” as Tun Dr Mahathir used to say or as predicted, (c) a hidden hand is in play.
Note: In the 90’s, I distinctly remember my Menteri Besar, Dato Abdul Ghani Othman and Dato Seri Panglima Osu Sukam garnering the second and third highest nominations respectively. They ended up in the bottom four ultimately. In Hisham’s case, they may be seen as obedient in nominating him if indeed there is a hidden hand or voice, but in the end, could common sense prevail?
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, Dato Seri Ali Rustam, and Datuk Nur Jazlan Tan Sri Mohamed.
1. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is facing an uphill battle due to the current scenario. Had the Prime Minister decided to contest with Najib maintaining his current position then my bet would be on TRH hands down because the PM has been deemed, with due respect, as damaged commodity. The culture manifested in UMNO today is of patronage. One dare not go against the person perceived to be next in line in fear of not being able to beg for future favours when he is anointed to his position. Trust me, if by the stroke of Allah, Tengku Razaleigh were to be made Prime Minister, in this case by technicality for instance, they’d have to close the road leading to his mansion due to the beeline taking their turn to kiss his hand. Such is the ways of UMNO leaders. Nominations will fall for him like snowflakes on a Christmas morning.
Note: Tengku Razaleigh is the man who should have been and could still be, but his campaign machinery leaves much to be desired. He is a bona-fide leader, but not many leaders of today’s UMNO know of his accomplishments. They only know his name unlike the leaders of the previous generation. He alone has sacrificed and given more for the party than all the members of the Supreme Council stacked together. IT IS NOT TRUE THAT MR BADAWI IS THE LAST FROM TUN RAZAK’S GENERATION OF LEADERS. HE FORGETS THAT TENGKU RAZALEIGH IS THE LONGEST SERVING PARLIAMENTARIAN AND WAS CLOSER TO TUN THAN ANYONE ELSE PERHAPS EVEN NAJIB, POLITICALLY SPEAKING.
2. Tan Sri Muhammad is in the twilight of his career. He has nothing to lose but everything to gain. I can’t see him as getting enough nominations but he will certainly give a good show if the opportunity arises. It needs to be remembered that he only lost to Tan Sri Muhyiddin by a mere 45 odd votes for Vice President in the last round despite the fact that the latter was supposed to be a clear winner having missed the cut to be Deputy Prime Minister despite being the preferred choice of the PM at the time.
Note: His time is up as he is not well liked for doggedly protecting his boss instead of advising him on the truth from the ground.
2. Dato Seri Ali Rustam on ground zero was initially tipped to be “the One” to give Muhyiddin a run for his money for the Deputy Presidency despite being not deserving to hold the position. The behavior of the UMNO members of today is not one to support those who excel in their duties but to embrace those with human-relation skills. I’m told that a good number of divisions in Johor were ready to nominate him (which is not unusual due to the “cold war” between the MB and Muhyiddin) until a mysterious wind blew over Johor very recently. Now they’ve shifted and will be nominating Muhyiddin as should be. We shall see the outcome these coming weeks. If Ali Rustam gets the numbers to qualify, Muhyiddin had better be propelling at full steam ahead.
Note: Ali Rustam could throw a spanner in the works when the going gets tough if he announces that if he wins, he won’t accept the Deputy Prime Minister’s post but would like to concentrate on fortifying the Party. I’m sure the Vice Presidential candidates will pull all their support for Ali as they would be the next in line to be picked from to fill the seat if Ali wins instead of Muhyiddin. This is against convention, however all else but the word of God can be amended.
3. Datuk Nur Jazlan, well what can I say? He is after all my Division Chief. At first instance I thought he did well to steal the thunder from Datuk Zahid Hamidi and Dato Seri Ali Rustam. The media went after him ever since and left the latter two in the cold. At least for now he looks more matured than Zahid for holding to his guns instead of looking like a child who didn’t think thoroughly before acting. After all, he merely expressed his interest and willingness to be nominated. If he succeeds well and good but if he doesn’t, at least he gave us an alternative. Who are we to say who should and shouldn’t offer themselves as candidates? This is democracy at its best. Do we not trust the delegates enough to nominate and vote with a right frame of mind? Do they need to be nursed into nominating and voting who we think they should nominate or vote? Haven’t we learnt from the mistakes of the great Tun Dr Mahathir of force feeding the leaders of his choice on us only to see us all suffer and be ridiculed henceforth politically? It is time the leaders stopped playing God in UMNO and let the grassroots pick their choice without duress, without undue influence.
Note: Nur Jazlan may not qualify to contest the Deputy Presidency but from the ground, I have found that the affluent young Malays and of course others find him a breath of fresh air, even if it is but for a brief moment. It will be difficult to penetrate through since 75 percent of the delegates usually are of the same people and mentality.
Next weekend should be interesting. Let’s see if all the divisions who nominate Najib will nominate his cousin as well. Let’s also see if the majority of these divisions nominate Najib, Muhyiddin, Hishammuddin and Mukhriz as a package.
If so, and if it prevails come March, then we bid welcome to the Kennedys and Rockefellers of UMNO.