Too many want to be Umno No 2
THERE is a Malay proverb which goes like this: Ukur baju di badan sendiri.
In the context of the increasing number of Umno leaders who are aspiring to contest the party’s deputy presidency, it roughly translates as one should assess his own capabilities before even thinking of declaring his intention to vie for the coveted position.
It appears that some Umno leaders have the impression that the contest for the party’s number two position merely involves putting themselves forward to fill a slot that will soon be vacant.
They are offering themselves because Datuk Seri Najib Razak is not expected to seek re-election as deputy president in the March party election, since he has been slated — some would say pushed — to go for the post of party president, on the assumption that Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would be willing to give up his position.
Abdullah is expected to announce his decision whether to seek re-election or not before the divisions begin holding their annual meetings on Thursday.
Many senior party leaders have said that Abdullah had indicated he was not interested in contesting in the March party polls.
The recent announcements and indications of interest in the deputy president’s post have had many people inside and outside Umno shaking their heads in disbelief.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and supreme council member Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Malacca Chief Minister and party vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam and Pulai member of Parliament Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed have, directly or indirectly, offered themselves.
But most of the divisions seem to be in favour of the Najib-Muhyiddin team.
Party vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the International Trade and Industry Minister, has yet to announce whether he is going for the deputy president’s post.
Another leader who appears to be interested in the post is party information chief and Rural Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhamad Taib.
Other names being bandied about so far include Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim and former Negri Sembilan menteri besar Tan Sri Isa Samad.
The list seems to be getting longer by the day. It makes one wonder whether Umno really does have that many leaders who are prime minister material.
This means that, in the absence of the prime minister, the person who holds this post has to be able to take charge of the country.
He has to possess far more than just grassroots support or good public relations skills.
“The number two must also be fit to be number one. Whether he eventually becomes number one or not, is another matter.
“In Umno, when delegates choose the number two, he is regarded as the successor,” says former Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Sabbaruddin Chik.
A former senior party leader believes most of the names bandied about will not even fulfil the first test, which is the 20 per cent nominations quota requirement to contest.
“Some of the aspiring candidates know they are either novices or do not fit the bill at all.
“Maybe they are using their announcements as a bargaining chip to contest one of the vice-president’s posts,” he said.
Umno’s 191 divisions have to take many things into consideration when they name their candidate for the deputy presidency.
So, before any more leaders jump on the bandwagon by latching on to the cliche that offering to contest means democracy alive in Umno, they should stop & think again.
It would be wise for Umno members to admit that the posts of president and deputy president are not meant for any Tom, Dick and Harry.