Political analysts said of the three incumbents, Ahmad Zahid is the best bet to be able to defend his Umno VP post (Photo by Hussein Shaharuddin/The Mole)
KUALA LUMPUR: The three Umno vice-presidents will face a stiff challenge to defend their posts in the coming party polls as party members have shown their sentiments of wanting a new and stronger leadership, predicted a political analyst.
Universiti Utara Malaysia's Mohd Faisol Keling, who lectures on politics, said of the three incumbents - Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and Datuk Seri Mohd Hishamuddin Tun Hussein - Ahmad Zahid have a better chance, followed by Shafie and Hishamuddin.
“We are talking about leaders who Umno delegates see as effective and have performed their tasks well, especially when it comes to championing the party’s agenda.
“This is why Ahmad Zahid have a better chance since people see him as a a fiery and charismatic leader; one who doesn’t hesitate or bow to anyone when it comes to policy implementation for the sake of the country,” Mohd Faisol said to The Mole.
He further said even though there are big names from Sabah that might challenge Mohd Shafie, the latter still held a good chance because being a minister that handles the rural areas had made him quite popular among the people in those areas.
On Hishamuddin’s chance, Mohd Faisol pointed out that everyone has an equal chance but it depended on who delegates thought was suitable based on their sentiments.
It was reported last month that the incumbents were set to defend their vice-presidency.
"I’ve made my mind that I will defend it (the position),” Zahid said.
Meanwhile Mohd Shafie, who is the Minister of Rural and Regional Development said he would defend the post as long as the party members want him to do so.
He was quoted by Bernama as saying that his five-year term as the minister raised the standard of living among the people in rural areas.
Another political analyst, assoc prof Datuk Zainal Abidin Borhan also predicted that Ahmad Zahid has a better chance to defend the post compared with the other two.
"I think there won't be a big problem for Zahid to retain his position...unless his machinery in every brand and division don't work well.
"Hishamuddin might be having a problem since Umno delegates are evaluating his performances as ministers. But its all up to his machineries.
And for Shafie...the challenge for him is stiffer because Musa is quite influential. We have to remember Umno Sabah has among the biggest branches and divisions among others, and the odd is with Musa right now," he said.
However, Zainal Abidin pointed out that the game would be different this time since the party's constitution has allowed 156,000 members to give vote directly.
"So you can no longer using money politics to influence the result, but the key is how effective your machineries going to be," he said.
Other "big names" speculated to join the fray for the vice presidency are former VP and former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Tan Sri Isa Abdul Samad as well as former Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.
However, Isa, who was vice president from 2004 to 2007, has not announced whether he would be vying for the post or not.
"When the time is right, I will announce it properly," he said as quoted in Utusan Malaysia.
Ali, who also held the vice president post during Isa's tenuere, look set to enter the ring challenge though he has not made any official announcement as yet.
He was quoted as saying that some Umno divisions have already showed their support if he vied for the post.