Sunday, July 20, 2008

UMNO Election 2008

Disquiet over Najib nomination for Umno presidency

JULY 20 — There were furrowed brows a day after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced that he would hand over power to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in mid-2010.

They belonged to some supporters of Abdullah who felt that he should not have shown his hand before the December party elections. Instead, these party veterans argued that the PM should have used all the powers of incumbency to secure at least 150 nominations from 191 divisions to defend the party president’s position.

Only after securing the top post, should Abdullah have contemplated setting a timetable for the transfer of power. Their rationale: they were concerned that Abdullah — feeling secure that the transition plan had been endorsed by the supreme council — would lower his guard against continuing moves to unseat him before December.
They were also concerned that Najib’s supporters upset about the two-year handover period would still agitate and apply pressure on Abdullah to revisit the transition timetable.

Last night, several Abdullah supporters were wearing the “I told you so’’ look after a speck of a branch in Pekan, Pahang, nominated Najib for the party president’s position.

Kampung Ubai Umno branch head Mohammad Hanapi Salleh said that the branch decided to table the emergency motion based on several factors.

“These included the two-year duration of the power transition agreed between the Prime Minister and party president, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy, is considered too long," he said.

In addition, the branch members also took into consideration the defeat of Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) in five states in the 12th general election under Abdullah's leadership.

"The other factors are the failure of the current leadership to resolve the issue on the price increases for petrol and food," he said.

Some 20,000 branches around the country will meet over the next few weeks and in the scheme of things, a decision by one branch rarely attracts any attention.

The reason: decisions by Umno branches have little impact on nominations for the top positions in the party. It is the decision at division level that is important. That is why division chiefs are viewed as kingmakers in ruling party politics.

Still, Kampung Ubai branch became famous overnight because Najib is the Pekan Umno division head and Member of Parliament for the constituency.

So the conspiracy theorists in Malaysia and some members of Abdullah’s camp were left wondering why a branch under his control would nominate him for the top post when he has gone on record to say that he wanted all Umno divisions to nominate Abdullah for the top post.

Umno officials note that there has been some disquiet among Najib’s supporters over the two-year wait before he assumes the top job in the party and country. They are concerned that continuous efforts by the Opposition to link him to the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu could damage his image severely and affect his ability to govern the country by 2010.

The charitable view is that the decision by Kampung Ubai to nominate Najib was a reflection on the powerful sentiment for change on the ground.

This theory assumes that even the all powerful DPM cannot block the sentiment for change in his own constituency. It is no secret that many rank-and-file officials blame Abdullah’s weak leadership for the dismal performance of Barisan Nasional in Election 2008, and believe that a change at the top could change the fortunes of Umno and the coalition.

An Umno official rubbished this notion, saying: “This decision by a branch in the DPM’s constituency sends a wrong signal. It can be interpreted to mean that the transition plan should be challenged.’’

For now, Abdullah’s supporters are prepared to take the wait and see approach. But that attitude could change if other branches start nominating Najib for the top post.


*Interesting UMNO election. more than 10 people already offered themselves for vice-president post. They knew that by 2010 at least or earlier Pak Lah will step down and Deputy Prime Minister post is up for grab. Whoever win the 3 vice-president post will be a step closer to become the Prime Minister.

Back in year 2000 i was Berita E-UMNO webmaster and that was my first experience in dealing with UMNO General Assembly and Supreme Council Election. It was hectic few week. Still remember i overslept in the office during the opening ceremony although i was supposed to cover the arrival of UMNO President (Tun Dr Ismail). Didnt sleep the whole night before, helping with the preparation. Although that was the first UMNO election after Anwar was sacked from the party, his team the so called Wawasan Team won big during the election. I still have a picture taken with UMNO HQ staff with TDM and his wife somewhere. Will look for it and post it here.

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