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Thursday October 17, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday October 17, 2013 MYT 9:34:45 AM
by joceline tan AND mazwin nik anis
All smiles: Hishammuddin (second left) sharing a light moment with Umno members upon his arrival at a meeting in Bukit Mertajam, Penang.
KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein admits that Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is in the lead in the contest for the three Umno vice-president’s posts on Saturday.
Hishammuddin, who is defending his post, said the other five candidates have equal chances of filling the remaining two VP seats.
“No one can predict how the 146,500 delegates will decide because of the new voting system,” he said in reference to the new Umno election system which sees a 60-fold increase in the number of voters.
In previous Umno elections, only about 2,500 delegates were eligible to cast their votes for top party positions.
Apart from Zahid and Hishammuddin, the other candidates vying for the VP posts are incumbent and Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir and former Malacca chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.
Hishammuddin, who is Defence Minister, said he has worked hard to counter the negative perception created about him, especially in social media over his role as Home Minister.
“I have been going around to explain to as many Umno members as possible. It has been tiring but my conscience is clear,” he told The Star.
On allegations that he was slow in responding to the Lahad Datu intrusion, Hishammuddin said many were unaware that the intruders had actually targeted Semporna, another coastal town in Sabah where six police personnel were killed.
He said the authorities had to move carefully as 27 people were trapped in the village and complicated preparations had to be made before authorities could move in.
He also cleared the air on accusations that he was weak in tackling Bersih (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections), illegal foreign workers and the underworld.
Hishammuddin said he only felt free to start his own campaign after it was established that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had won the posts of president and deputy president uncontested.
Asked about his chances of winning, he said everything was in the hands of the delegates.
Hishammuddin said delegates should know of his love and loyalty for the party and how he had held the Youth wing together following the 1998 turmoil when half the wing’s leadership left following Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sacking from the party and Government.
He helmed Umno Youth from that point onwards, and held the post for three terms before winning the vice-presidency in 2009.
Asked whether he has an advantage since he is the cousin of Najib, he said he would not have survived this long in politics if he had to rely on family ties.
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Politics, Umno polls, UMNO elections, politics
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