Umno picks new wing chiefs in internal elections

(Left to right) Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, Datuk Noraini Ahmad and Datuk Zahida Zarik Khan.
(Left to right) Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, Datuk Noraini Ahmad and Datuk Zahida Zarik Khan.PHOTOS: BERNAMA, FACEBOOK

Many division posts uncontested, a sign party is resistant to change: Analysts

Malaysia's largest political party Umno voted in new chiefs for its three wings yesterday, as it tries to rebound from the shock defeat in the general election last month.

The three million-strong party had last Saturday announced some of the results for the 191 division chiefs, with 74 of them winning uncontested.

These results, analysts say, are an indication that the party is not ready, or not able, to pick new blood to replace the current crop of leaders, who had a part in causing the electoral defeat.

The fights for the three wing chief posts were dominated by known figures from the previous Najib Razak leadership.

The closely watched four-way Youth wing race was won by former deputy Islamic affairs minister Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, 42. There was a delay of several hours before the result was announced, due to tallying issues involving 25 Kedah divisions.

Significantly, Datuk Asyraf, who studied Islamic finance and banking in Malaysia and Britain, defeated former deputy Youth chief Khairul Azwan Harun.

Former Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin is contesting the Umno president's post.

In the Women's wing, the winner of the three-cornered fight was Datuk Noraini Ahmad, 50, who was deputy human resources minister.

Her main challenger was Barisan Nasional's Women vice-chairman Azizah Dun, 57.

 
 

The new chief replaced long-serving Women's chief Shahrizat Jalil, who said she was quitting politics.

The new chief of the Puteri (Young Women) wing is Datuk Zahida Zarik Khan, 39, who beat her challenger in a straight fight.

She was deputy Puteri chief in the previous term.

Umno acting president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is a candidate for the president's post, congratulated the trio yesterday in a Facebook post before the official results were announced.

He had a poster of himself with the new wing chiefs with the message: "Together, let us rise up in the name of Umno and continue to strengthen and align Umno with the hearts of Malaysians, especially the Malays."

Umno executive secretary Ab Rauf Yusoh had on Saturday said 74 of the 191 division chiefs won uncontested.

They included Datuk Seri Najib, who retained his Pekan division in Pahang; Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid, his former deputy, in Bagan Datuk, Perak; and former vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein in Sembrong, Johor.

A total of 66 deputy division chiefs also won uncontested.

Analysts say the results indicated that though party members spoke about making big changes to move Umno forward as a credible opposition party, they might yet be resistant to change.

Said political analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi: "The grip by division heads, who are widely known to be Najib's people, is still strong.

"This makes it hard for positive changes to take place in Umno. When candidates win uncontested, it also shows that they lack young talent," he added.

Umno, which now has 53 Members of Parliament - making it the single largest party in Parliament - will pick its new president, deputy president, three vice-presidents and 25 Supreme Council members on Saturday.

The president's post has three contenders - Mr Zahid, 65; veteran politician Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, 81; and Mr Khairy, 42.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2018, with the headline 'Umno picks new wing chiefs in internal elections'. Print Edition | Subscribe