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Thursday, 26 September 2013

MUKHRIZ ENTRY INTO UMNO VP RACE, SETS UP BATTLE ROYALE WITH HISHAMMUDDIN

Hishammuddin finds being in cousin Najib’s camp a mixed blessing

The pact between the incumbent vice-presidents - (from left) Shafie Apdal, Hishammuddin Hussein and Ahmad Zahid - could work to Hishammuddin's advantage as he is considered the weakest link among the trio. The Malaysian Insider pic, September 25, 2013.The pact between the incumbent vice-presidents - (from left) Shafie Apdal, Hishammuddin Hussein and Ahmad Zahid - could work to Hishammuddin's advantage as he is considered the weakest link among the trio. The Malaysian Insider pic, September 25, 2013.
















Datuk 
Seri Hishammuddin Hussein must be having sleepless nights.
The Umno vice-president is facing an uphill task to retain his post for a second term in the party polls on October 19 as a new mood for change and reform sweeps through the party.
Hishammuddin is finding out that his pedigree as the grandson of Umno founder Datuk Onn Jaafar and son of Malaysia's third prime minister Tun Hussein Onn is not enough to assure him one of the three vice-presidencies in the crowded six-man race. Not any more than his affable nature or support from several Johor Umno divisions and Najib's wish for the status quo to remain.His past performance is up for scrutiny and it is not coming up smelling like roses, going by ground sentiment.
Members are unhappy that Hishammuddin, 52, did not shine as Home Minister during his tenure from 2009 until the May general election.
"He was lembik (weak), unlike Ahmad Zahid," said an Umno warlord, referring to the man who replaced Hishammuddin as Home Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
"All Hishammuddin did was issue warnings after warnings, without taking firm action on those who questioned the government and made sensitive remarks on race and religion," said the warlord.
Forming an alliance will enable them to leverage on each other's strength and support, although it will not guarantee them a win, as members are in the mood for change.
"The stakes are very high now," noted Sabah UiTM political analyst Dr Arnold Puyok.
Hishammuddin and his “team-mates” will slug it out with Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad and former Malacca chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam – who have their own power base and support.
His biggest contender comes in the form of Mukhriz (pic, right), who is the son of influential former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Dr Mahathir still commands considerable support in the party, especially among hardliners who yearn for a return to the years when Umno was strong. They could give their backing to Dr Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz, over Najib's cousin, Hishammuddin.
But what Hishammuddin has in his corner is his long experience with the party and yes, the Najib factor. Najib's supporters could give their votes to Hishammuddin, as Najib has indicated he wants the status quo.
"The Najib factor is not a negative on Hishammuddin's chances. In fact, it might rub on a little on him," argued Universiti Putra Malaysia political analyst Dr Jayum Jawan.
Another plus point in Hishammuddin's favour is the power of incumbency as well as his 20-odd years’ experience in Umno, including being part of the party's powerful Supreme Council. These factors carry weight in Umno where networking matters.
He also runs two ministries and this allows him to go to the ground to touch base with members and supporters.
Putting on a brave front, Hishammuddin has declared that he is not afraid to face his challengers.
"My struggles began 20 years ago at the divisional level, rising up to become Youth head and leading numerous ministries. What is important, my heart cannot be separated from Umno, even in defeat.
"With the increasing number of candidates contesting the vice-presidency, I feel there is not much difference from the previous elections because what is important is that my sincerity in carrying out my work has been proven and it is the party members who will decide my fate," he was quoted as saying recently, mindful of Mukhriz's challenge. – September 25, 2013.


MALAYSIAN INSIDER

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