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Muhyiddin’s win: Umno’s desire to change

Muhyiddin Yassin, the new Umno deputy president (pic courtesy of theSun)

KUALA LUMPUR, 26 March 2009: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is the new Umno deputy president, and by convention, is set to be Malaysia’s next deputy prime minister.

His win over Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, 63, appears to hint at Umno’s desire for change and decisive leadership, which Muhyiddin, 61, has said were lacking in the party.

Umno’s three new vice-presidents are Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

There were surprise upsets in the race for 25 supreme council members, with the casualties being four menteris besar, two ministers, and one deputy minister. These candidates were expected to have enough clout to secure a seat in the council by virtue of their positions in state and the federal governments.

In a closely-fought race, Muhyiddin beat Muhammad with 1,575 votes to 916. The results were announced at 10:40pm to rapturous cheers by delegates. A total of 2,491 delegates voted.

Voice of reason

Muhyiddin’s ascendancy as the country’s second-in-command is likely to be more palatable to most Malaysians as he has consistently positioned himself as a voice of reason and pragmatism within Umno.

The international trade and industry minister’s remarks about the need to revise aspects of Malay Malaysian privileges to make Malaysia more competitive have been well-received by the business community and other races.

He was also among the early voices calling for Barisan Nasional’s reform after the coalition’s poor performance in last year’s general elections. Within Umno, Muhyiddin was among the first to push for a change of leadership and was marked as the instigator of the hastened power transition from Abdullah to Najib.

Muhyiddin’s experience in federal and state government has been extensive. He was Johor menteri besar for nearly 10 years before becoming youth and sports minister. Other ministerial positions held since then were in domestic trade and consumer affairs, and agriculture and agro-based industries. His highest post in Umno before this was vice-president.

The vice-presidents

Three vice-presidents were elected in a packed race of eight candidates.

Ahmad Zahid, 55, polled the highest number of votes at 1,592. He was previously a supreme council member and Umno Youth chief. Currently a minister in the prime minister’s department in charge of religious affairs, Ahmad Zahid was a former aide to new Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak when the latter was Youth chief.

Hishammuddin at 47 is the youngest vice-president. He polled the second highest number of votes at 1,515. The outgoing Youth chief, he has led the wing since 1998. He was former youth and sports minister, and is first cousins with Najib.

Mohd Shafie’s election marks the first time Sabah Umno is represented at vice-president level. Shafie, 51, was previously a supreme council member and is the current unity, culture, arts and heritage minister.

The others who did not make the cut were Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, former Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, and former Malacca Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik.

Supreme council

Twenty-five supreme council members were also elected tonight from 50 candidates.

In the new supreme council line-up, Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed polled the highest votes at 2,259.

Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Noh Omar and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman tied for the second highest number of votes at 2,084.

The rest of the line up is:

  • Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Husni Mohd Hanadzlah;
  • Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad (incumbent);
  • former Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin (incumbent);
  • former Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh (incumbent);
  • Putera Umno chief Datuk Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim;
  • Pasir Salak MP Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman;
  • former Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Lajim Ukin;
  • Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Idris Haron;
  • Batu Pahat MP and Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club deputy chairperson Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zakarshi;
  • Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique (incumbent);
  • Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek;
  • controversial Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Moktar Radin;
  • Deputy Entrepreneur and Cooperative Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah;
  • Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister II Datuk Hamzah Zainudin (incumbent);
  • Works Minister Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed (incumbent);
  • Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd chairperson Senator Datuk Azian Osman;
  • Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Manson;
  • former Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaludin Mohd Jarjis;
  • corporate figure Senator Datuk Dr Norraesah Mohamad (incumbent);
  • Rural and Regional Development Deputy Minister Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman;
  • Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri; and
  • former Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (incumbent).

Notable losers

The four menteris besar who lost in the supreme council race were Pahang MB Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, Perlis MB Datuk Seri Dr Md Isa Sabu, Negeri Sembilan MB Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, and Johor MB Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.

Adnan, Mohamad and Ghani were incumbents.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, the Puteri wing’s first chief, and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Samad both lost in their re-election bids.

Azalina is currently dogged by allegations of money politics and abuse of power in her ministry. Her political secretary is also being investigated for having RM70,000 in the boot of his car. The money was purportedly meant for some Umno delegates.

Deputy Human Resources Minister and outgoing Puteri chief Datuk Noraini Ahmad also lost in her bid for a higher post in the party.

There were initially 51 candidates, but Datuk Mohamad Norza Zakaria, an incumbent, was barred by the party leadership from contesting after being charged with political corruption by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission recently.

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