Friday, March 27, 2009

Winners and Losers

From The Malaysian Insider:

Winners and Losers, Day 2

MARCH 27 – Yesterday was a good day for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. His choice of candidates for the deputy presidency (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) and the three vice-presidents (Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein and Datuk Shafie Apdal) all came through.

But it was also a day of upsets, the end of political careers and a day in which being a Mentri Besar counted for little.

The Malaysian Insider looks at the winners and losers of Day 2 of the Umno general assembly.

• Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi – Today’s victory complete the astounding turnaround for the Perak politician. He was detained under the Internal Security Act, ostracised by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for being a follower of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, forced out of Umno Youth and into political wilderness and then brought back into the party by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Now he is one of the most powerful figures in Umno and certain bet for a senior Cabinet position.

• Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin – This was the prize that Muhyiddin and his supporters have been eyeing since Election 2008, when it became apparent that it would only be a matter of time for Najib to replace Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as president and for the number two position to become vacant.

Muhyiddin led the charge to get Abdullah to step down earlier but he was not a shoo-in for the deputy president’s position. Only the endorsement of the Najib camp and the disqualification of

Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Ali Rustam pushed him over the line today against rank outsider, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib.

But a win is a win, and a month from now, most people would have forgotten the margin of victory or the back story.

• Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – delivered probably one of the best speeches during his time as Umno president and prime minister. And 17 of the 25 successful Supreme Council candidates are either those whom he appointed to the Cabinet, government positions or identified in the party as his men. These men and woman are acceptable to Najib.

• Datuk Norraesah Mohamad – the former banker was told by Abdullah that she would be appointed to the Cabinet if she won the Balik Pulau parliamentary constituency on March 8 2008. She lost and has been flirting with political oblivion till today, becoming the only woman to win a seat on the powerful Supreme Council.

• Datuk Mustapha Mohamad – Quiet and unassuming, the Kelantan politician made the biggest noise in the Supreme Council polls when he garnered the most number of votes. Pretty impressive for someone who still has his clean image intact after years in Umno.

• Datuk Adnan Yaacob, Datuk Mohamad Hassan and Datuk Ghani Othman – It is a rare day when party members boot out so many mentri besars but this was the fate that befell Adnan(Pahang), Mohamad (Negeri Sembilan) and Ghani (Johor).

The talk along the corridors of the Putra World Trade Centre was that these three men had paid the price for not opening up their wallets and for their unfriendly persona.

• Datuk Azalina Othman Said – She asked party delegates to remember that she was innocent until proven guilty but it was always going to be a hike up Mount Kinabalu after the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said that they were investigating her for money politics. It would be a minor miracle if she is named to the Najib cabinet.

• Datuk Ali Rustam – It was certainly a case of what it could have been for Ali. He was barred from contesting the number two position in Umno for breaching party ethics but even now, a great many delegates believe that he was a target of selective prosecution and a certainty for deputy president’s position.

• Datuk Syed Hamid Albar and Datuk Seri Rais Yatim – There will be a new Home Minister and there will be a new Foreign Minister.

Rais hoped that Dr Mahathir’s endorsement would propel him to victory. It did not.

Syed Hamid hoped that his tough man act as the Home Minister would catch the attention of the voters. It did not.

• Malaysians – What else can you do besides shrug your shoulders and wonder what is going in Umno when three of the most obnoxious MPs – Datuk Bung Mokthar Radin, Datuk Puad Zarkashi and Datuk Tajudin Rahman – get elected to the most powerful decision-making body in the party.

These chaps rub non-Malays the wrong way all the time and two of them (Bung Mokhtar and Tajudin) score high on the sexism chart.

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