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Friday October 11, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday October 11, 2013 MYT 2:33:48 PM
by sa’odah elias, mazwin nik anis, razak ahmad, sira habibu, p. aruna, AND neville spykerma
PETALING JAYA: Khairy Jamaluddin and Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil look set to retain their posts at the Umno elections tomorrow.
Political observers said both were riding a wave of support because of their incumbency but cautioned against over confidence as almost 220,000 delegates will be voting in the elections for the three wings and the huge number made it tough to gauge sentiments. Previously only 2,000 voted, making it simpler to predict their leaning and the likely outcome.
The 37-year-old Khairy’s political fortune is on the upswing after being appointed Youth and Sports minister after the 13th general election.
As for the 60-year-old Shahrizat, she continues to be ‘haunted’ by the National Feedlot Centre scandal involving her family. But she received a huge boost with her appointment in August as Special Adviser to the Prime Minister to oversee the development of women entrepreneurs and professionals.
Khairy is facing four challengers in what is described as a contest between his “new politics” and his challengers who represent calls for the movement to focus more on championing the interest of Malays.
Umno insiders believe Khairy has the edge as none of his challengers – Akhramsyah Sanusi, Syed Rosli Syed Harman, Mohd Karim Ali and Irwan Ambak Khalid Izhar – are political heavyweights.
In the 2009 party elections, Khairy defeated more established aspirants – (now Kedah Mentri Besar) Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir and (then Selangor Mentri Besar) Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo.
Shahrizat, who is squaring off against Datuk Maznah Mazlan and Raihan Suleiman, faced probably the biggest test of her political career when the NFC scandal broke out two years ago.
The scandal forced her to resign from the Cabinet but appears to have done little damage to her as far as the Wanita movement is concerned.
She has officially been backed by a majority of the 191 Wanita division chiefs, which is a big advantage compared to her challengers.
“Since Shahrizat took office in 2009, she has taken care of the grassroots and because of that she is enjoying good support from them now although there is an undercurrent of unhappiness due to the NFC issue,” said a Wanita division chief.
Shahrizat has admitted it is difficult gauging her chances.
“When I go down and meet the grassroots, the support is there and it is sincere but we cannot take anything for granted,” she said.
A point to note, however, is that while Shahrizat’s challengers may not be as formidable, the Wanita movement has previously defied expectations – in the 1996 party polls Datuk Dr Siti Zaharah Sulaiman registered an upset victory over iron lady Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.
In Khairy’s case, Akhramsyah who is the son of former Kedah Mentri Besar Tan Sri Sanusi Junid appears to be the strongest of the four challengers as he enjoys the backing of the members wanting the movement to champion the interest of the Malays.
“This is a challenge not just for Khairy but for the whole party because the elections will show which direction Umno will choose,” said political analyst Assoc Prof Shaharuddin Badaruddin.
“If delegates show their preference towards candidates promising to make Umno more Malay-centric than it already is, Malays will benefit more but it may affect efforts to woo the non-Malays (in the next general election),” he added.
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Politics, umno election, umno youth, wanita umno, puteri umno
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