Umno elections have begun

PETALING JAYA: The Umno elections to pick its new office-bearers involving 22,000 branches and 191 divisions across the country have begun in stages and will go on until March 18, with all eyes on the crowded vice-presidency race.

The three vice-president posts will be the highest up for grabs after a motion calling for a no-contest for the top two posts – the president and deputy president – was passed at its annual general assembly last month.

Umno election committee chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad, when contacted, said those interested in the vice-presidency can file their papers on March 3.

Party vice-president Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin has confirmed that he will defend his post while his other two counterparts, former prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and former minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, have remained tight-lipped.

Several other Umno bigwigs are expected to join Mohamed Khaled in the race – they include Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who are both ministers, and Titiwangsa MP Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani.

Others said to be eyeing the party’s No. 3 posts are former Johor mentri besar Datuk Seri Hasni Mohammad and Sabah Umno liaison chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin.

The annual delegates meeting and contest for the Wanita, Youth and Puteri wings at the branch level are taking place for 26 days from Feb 1 to 26.

This will be followed by the elections for the three wings, which will be held simultaneously on March 11.

Polls for the Umno supreme council members (25 positions) at the division level will take place simultaneously on March 18 nationwide.

Talk is rife that there is a movement within Wanita to bring back its former head Tan Sri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil to compete for the wing’s top post. Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad, a minister during Ismail Sabri’s administration, is the incumbent chief.

Meanwhile, Umno supreme council member Datuk Armand Azha Abu Hanifah has expressed interest in going for the Umno Youth chief post.

Incumbent Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said during the party’s general assembly last month that he will not defend his post.

Armand Azha may face a challenger in Jasin assemblyman Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh.

Former Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s son, Datuk Mohd Nazifuddin, has offered to contest the deputy youth chief post.

International Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz has announced that he will enter the fray for a spot on the supreme council.

Last week, the former banker was reportedly appointed a Kota Raja division committee member amid growing speculation that Umno will field him as its candidate there for the Selangor state election due this year.

Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan reiterated that the passing of a no-contest motion for the top two posts during the recent 2022 Umno general assembly did not breach the party’s constitution or rules.

“Everything went smoothly. About 90% of the delegates agreed that the president and deputy president posts would not be contested.

“There have been many times in Umno’s 77-year history that the positions have not been contested,” he said in an online post.

However, Terengganu Umno member Aizat Fikri Nasir, who lodged a report with the Registrar of Societies (ROS) over the no-contest motion, disputed Ahmad Maslan’s statement, saying that he had received a letter from the ROS dated Jan 26 stating that it was still in the midst of checking and investigating his complaint.

He urged Ahmad Maslan not to jump the gun but to allow the ROS to complete its probe.

“To me, the issue is far from over, and I hope that truth will prevail,” said Aizat Fikri.

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