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In the run-up to an important date that is the UMNO General Assembly this month along with  the excitement of candidates contesting in the various posts, rumours are abound about  certain  informal directives that are making their rounds. And so this article here on the rumblings,  seems to give credence to the grapevine.

After the top two uncontested posts, perhaps no other posts are more important than the Vice – Presidents (VP) because it is the stepping stone to the powerful top two posts in the party and eventually, as usually the case,  the ultimate prize itself; the President of UMNO and the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

UMNO VPs incumbents - from left, Shafie,Zaid and Hishammudin - forming a pact?

UMNO VPs incumbents – from left, Shafie,Zahid and Hishammuddin – forming a pact for a status qou?

Whatever the aspiration of each of the six candidates for the VP posts, delegates,  146,000 of them must be able to choose conscientiously based on their own analysis of the contestants’ abilities and performance.  And certainly not on popularity or deemed to have the support of the leadership.

For others, be it the leadership itself, to direct the states and consequently the divisional representatives  to stick to the status quo, meaning to retain the current three VPs is not only bordering on being partial but worse than that;  it is tantamount to insulting the intelligence of the representatives.

This status quo call at the VP level could only  arise  because the top two posts are not contested. And yet it would not have arisen if the two leaders who won uncontested had remained neutral. Why is there the need for camps,  implicit upon which,  are distrust and disunity? To me, a strong and confident leader can bridge any chasm or alleviate internal problems without resorting to breaking up the party. He should strive to look for common ground and be open to compromise.

There is no place for intransigence in a party which is going to face the people every four to five years time otherwise all in the same boat will sink like the fate of the Australian Labor Party ALP) in the country’s recent General Election.

VPs candidates 2013 - Old, young, incumbents

VPs candidates UMNO Election 2013  – The  Elderly (Ali Rustam, Isa Samad), Young  (Mukhriz) and  the incumbents

As usual we note that Najib is silent on this issue of status quo though his close lieutenants are attributing the order to him.  When asked about this in Los Angeles, US, a few days ago, Najib said it was better for him to remain silent on this issue for fear of being misinterpreted. The interesting point about that response is that he  did not answer the question, in short he did not deny it outright.

Among the current VPs,  only one looks like someone who has leadership qualities despite his personal muck. The other two are bad news. One, despite a  multi-million allocation, is not effective in transforming the rural areas where there is nothing much to show.

The  other VP just doesn’t know how to be effective :  His performance records at the Ministry of Education was mediocre and later at Home Affairs Ministry  (just look at how disastrous  his initial response to the Sulu Invasion of Lahad Datu in Sabah in February 2013 was) and  not to mention his weak handling of the cow-head issue in  Selangor in 2009. Being Najib’s cousin, however, has helped him to avoid undue criticisms. And now he is given another major portfolio, the Minister of Defence and yet another one, the Ministry of Transports supposedly on a temporary basis while  waiting for MCA, the BN Chinese component party to return from their post-GE13 sulking.

The retention of  the status quo is a fatal flaw as the delegates may think that the incumbents could work better with the leadership but in actual fact they are exposing  PM Najib to  the same kind of views by people who would only tell him what he wants to hear! And by representatives who have failed to perform. It would then be business as usual. New ideas and changes are not driven by party members but by outsourced consultants.

Najib needs new blood to rejuvenate the party and inject fresh ideas to keep it relevant by the next GE14  (2018) which is seen to be crucial to the fate of the ruling BN government with the emergence of young and impatient electorates.

The way forward for UMNO, under the present circumstances, is to have capable and spirited Supreme Council members, particularly the  Vice Presidents. Loyalty to the party supersedes all others and yet it should not be construed as blind to a bad leadership. Blind loyalty based on “blood is thicker than water” would serve to feed complacency.

The lot of intelligent members at the division and central level can judge who need to be given the boots based on their performance in the last five years.

While the ongoing online polls by certain bloggers  are giving interesting results (a big NO to VP status quo), these voters are not generally of the same characteristics as those UMNO delegates hence might not reflect the actual election results which many of us are waiting with some trepidation.

May the delegates vote with their heads and not their feet.

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