By The Malaysian Insider
The Umno elections are over, and here are the winners and losers.
- Datuk Seri Najib Razak
He wanted the status quo and he got it. He may be the butt of jokes in urban Malaysia for staying silent on all important issues in the country and for believing that all problems can be solved by tossing money around but in Umno, the man is in a strong position.
All his men – Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein – were elected as vice-presidents yesterday. Also protecting his flank are Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Wanita Umno leader Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil.
Even if Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad goes on a rampage against Najib, it is going to be just noise because the former prime minister will not have a power broker in a senior position in Umno to shake Najib.
Najib is in a much stronger position in his party than he was just after the May 5 general election. But will he do anything with this mandate or will he remain Mr Anonymous?
- Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
If as expected Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin does not contest the next general election, guess who is in running to become the deputy prime minister of Malaysia.
Not bad for someone who was detained under the Internal Security Act in 1998; who until a couple of years ago was staring at political oblivion, the price for being a close associate of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Not bad for someone without the gravitas or the intellectual heft of some of Malaysia’s former DPMs, heavyweights such as Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman and Tun Musa Hitam.
But who are we to say anything? Umno absolutely loves his fighting talk and right-wing rhetoric.
- Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein
Remember that classmate of yours who did not do much throughout the year, crammed for the last month and somehow managed to pass the SPM? Remember him following the same path for STPM and scraping through?
Now think of Hishammuddin Hussein. He did not perform well as Education Minister and only snared a slot as the vice-president in the last party polls, thanks to the last-minute intervention of his cousin, Najib.
This time around, he needed the whole cavalry to take him over the finish line. Even Shahrizat mobilised Wanita Umno to help the man who put in a poor, poor shift as the home minister.
On his own, he would have been an also-ran.
- Khairy Jamaluddin
He retained his position as the Umno Youth chief so comfortably and has positioned himself as the reformer in the party (it is just branding because in Umno a reformer is someone who says he is a reformer. Walking the talk is optional).
With Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir out of the picture and Dr Mahathir’s ability to influence Umno on the wane, expect Khairy to take a higher profile in the party.
Also expect him to contest the vice-presidency at the next party polls. Not a bad few months for someone once best known as the son-in-law of Tun Abdullah Badawi.
Is this the best the ruling party can offer Malaysians? Yes. This is the Umno dream team: Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Shafie Apdal, Hishammuddin Hussein. One of these chaps could end up as the prime minister.
There is Zahid who till today has been unable to answer allegations of cronyism raised against him by Dr Mahathir in 1998 or still has that case of allegedly assaulting his daughter’s friend hanging over him.
And sandwiched in between is a litany of statements bordering on chauvinistic, seditious or just plain ridiculous.
Shafie is the colourless, under-performer from Sabah while Hishammuddin is best known for waving the keris during the Umno assembly in 2006 and watching crime become a serious problem on his tour of duty as the home minister.
But this is the best Umno can offer. A bit like the Malaysian football team: a pale shadow of the great teams of Arumugam, Soh Chin Aun and Mokhtar Dahari.
- Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
The former prime minister still has some pull in Umno but is not nearly as influential as what his bloggers and supporters and family would like to believe. Without the Mahathir surname and intense campaigning by his father, Mukhriz would have been thrashed.
Still, few people remember losers, or the margin of defeat. In Umno, it is even more cruel. Few have time for losers. Party members only respect power and gravitate to those with the scent of power.
For Dr Mahathir, this is the second consecutive election that he has been unable to make his presence count for the candidate of his choice. In GE13, despite campaigning for Ibrahim Ali and Zulkifli Nordin both were defeated by candidates from PAS in Pasir Mas and Shah Alam respectively.
- Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam
The man played the race card to the hilt and painted himself as a victim of the Chinese tsunami but he performed worse than expected. He was quietly confident of even snatching the third vice-president’s slot. So why did he perform so badly?
The electoral college may have been extended but the real power brokers are the 191 division chiefs. It is they who set the voting pattern for their delegates and, truth be told, the majority of them did not want to antagonise Najib who had already indicated that he wanted the status quo retained.
(From The Malaysian Insider)