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‘Kampung style’ makes Mustapa Mohamed popular

KUALA LUMPUR, 27 March 2009: His easy-going style is among factors which makes Datuk Mustapa Mohamed popular and receiving the highest votes in the party election yesterday.

Born in Bachok, Kelantan, Mustapa or better known as ‘Tok Pa’ is comfortable with his ‘kampung man’ style, saying that as the Member of Parliament for the remote constituency of Jeli, which was lagging far behind in terms of development, the ‘kampung’ approach made him accessible and close to the grassroots.

“I’m a kampung man, I prefer to go to the villages, talk and have coffee with the village folks. I feel that’s the strategy that attracts the people,” he told Bernama when asked for the secret of his popularity with the Umno delegates, here today.

The economics graduate from the University of Boston, United States received 2,259 votes, the highest among the 25 supreme council members (Majlis Tertinggi, or MT) who were elected yesterday.

Mustapa first contested the MT seat in the 1993 party election where he garnered 1,280 votes for the seventh spot, and in the 1996 election, he came out third with 1,484 votes while in 2000, he rose to the second spot with 1,628 votes.

In the 2003 election, he contested for the vice-presidency but failed in the bid.

Mustapa, who once served as political secretary to Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin between 1984 and 1991, said the new Umno line-up headed by Datuk Seri Najib Razak must now endeavour to restore the image of Umno as soon as possible to ensure that the grassroots of the largest Malay party no longer remained uneasy about their future.

The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister, who feels comfortable among friends and foes, said: “We have to regain the confidence of the people. That is important.”

“Umno leaders must work together with the new president to bring radical changes to regain the people’s support for Umno,” said Mustapa who had served as Entrepreneur Development Minister, Second Finance Minister, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and Higher Education Minister since being appointed full minister 14 years ago. — Bernama


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