Thursday, October 2, 2008
Zahid Hamidi the dark horse?
Datuk Zahid Hamidi (pic) is contesting the deputy Umno president post. If he gets the 38 nominations* and go on to win the post, he could very well be the next Deputy Prime Minister. He is said to be the "dark horse" in the race for the number two slot in the Umno party polls. The former Umno Youth chief is said to have the endorsement of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is certain to announce soon that he is not seeking to defend his Umno president's post. It is no secret among supporters of Pak Lah that they are not backing Tan Sri Muyhiddin Yassin, who had openly called for Pak Lah to speed up the leadership transition period. It is not clear if Muyhiddin would contest the deputy president post. If he does, then the fight is between Zahid Hamidi and Muyhiddin. At least two division chiefs, Cheras and Titiwangsa, have reportedly endorsed Najib and Muhyiddin for the top two posts but they have yet to hold their meetings. With Zahid Hamidi's announcement, the scenario has changed sharply. The race has become tighter and the stakes even higher. While Najib is not expected to endorse any candidate for the number two post, it must be noted that Zahid had served as Najib's political secretary. The former ISA detainee was also an ally of Anwar Ibrahim. He paid a heavy political price when he backed Anwar's reformasi campaign in 1998 and it took him a long time to return to mainstream Umno politics. But the stage is now set for a showdown between Zahid and Muyhiddin.
* Under Umno quota rules, those intending to stand for party posts must get at least 30% (president), 20% (deputy president), 10% (vice-president) and 5% (Supreme Council seat) of nominations.