The Asian Voice

Is the Umno president in peril?: Sin Chew Daily columnist

Responding to the exodus in Sabah Umno, Umno President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Sabah Umno was still strong and stable and there were still plenty of supporters.
Responding to the exodus in Sabah Umno, Umno President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Sabah Umno was still strong and stable and there were still plenty of supporters.PHOTO: BERNAMA

In his article, the writer says the Umno president will have to fight his own battle, to survive.

KUALA LUMPUR (SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - It is generally believed that it's just a matter of time.

Umno President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is an arrow without a sense of direction destined to hit the hard ground.

Responding to the exodus in Sabah Umno, the party president said Sabah Umno was still strong and stable and there were still plenty of supporters.

His facial expression, nevertheless, betrayed him.

He appeared listless in the press conference, looking dejected.

This serves to prove that it is an irreversible fact that the party will eventually lose Sabah.

Umno made a landfall in Sabah in 1991, and was in firm control of the state for the subsequent 27 years.

 
 
 
 

The state used to be a formidable pillar to hold up Umno in the past.

Losing Sabah is like having one more limb amputated, blockading the party's return to Malaysia's political mainstream.

As president, Zahid is liable for the party's humiliating electoral setback.

Sabah Umno Youth deputy chief Ghazalie Ansing pointed his finger straight at Zahid for his disoriented leadership and exploiting corruption in Umno to defend himself in his own court cases, causing the downfall of Sabah Umno.

Observers conclude that the mass exodus in Sabah Umno was more a part of the operation within the party to unseat Zahid, than a plan by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal to undermine the party.

Sabah Umno is a highly complicated entity made up of different factions and sects, mainly of Musa Aman, Mohd Salleh and the erstwhile Shafie Apdal faction, not to mention independents in the likes of Pandikar Amin.

These people have their own territories, interests and are chronically at loggerheads.

Even if Mahathir and Shafie manage to get a few elected reps to defect to Pakatan Harapan (PH), the number will not be significant enough to rock the base of the whole organisation.

Moreover, the leadership at most of the divisions has collapsed this time, which is very unusual.

Without a few hidden hands from within the organisation, such a thorough breakdown is inconceivable.

Just when everyone was making his own guesses, Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted that a bangsawan (nobility) in the party was the hand behind the mass exodus.

Which, indirectly, points to former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein, the only one we now see who has a nobility background.

Khairy and Hishammuddin used to be buddies in Umno Youth, but may also be competitors in future.

No matter how sour their relationship gets, Khairy is not going this far unless he has some evidence with him.

People familiar with politics are aware that Hishammuddin has recently restarted his political activities, having stayed low for several months.

He does not hold any office in the party, but is widely recognised as the only man who is capable of challenging Zahid in the party.

He is also seen as more inclined to compromise with Mahathir and more willing to work with PH.

Earlier, it was said that some Umno leader had secured the endorsement of 38 Umno MPs to oust Zahid.

Hishammuddin has denied that he was behind the exodus in Sabah Umno.

Besides him, former tourism minister Mohamed Nazri is another leader who wants to take down Zahid. It is said that he has reached some kind of agreement with 30 Umno MPs.

After toppling Zahid, Nazri's next move is to get Umno reps to align with Anwar Ibrahim to fight Mahathir.

While Mahathir, Shafie, Hisham, Khairy or Nazri each has a specific role to play in this whole thing, it's Zahid's own ability, or inability, that puts the final nail in his coffin.

Sin Chew Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media organisations.