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Deputy President Contenders
Muhyiddin 91 nominations.
Ali Rustam 47 nominations,
Muhammad 44 nominations.
Nominations Closed.
Mat Taib qualifies for Umno deputy president race
PETALING JAYA (Nov 10, 2008): For the first time in two decades, Umno members will see contest for the deputy president’s post in the form of a three-cornered fight.

The majority of the 191 divisions, save for the few which had to be postponed, concluded meetings on Sunday by nominating incumbent vice-presidents Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam for the No. 2 post. Joining them yesterday was former Selangor mentri besar Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib who passed the 39-nomination quota.

Leading contender Muhyiddin secured his ticket on Oct 19 and leads with 91 nominations.
Ali, the Malacca chief minister, who qualified on Saturday, has 47 nominations, and Muhammad, 44.

What was initially speculated to be a shoo-in for Muhyiddin, who is international trade and industry minister, to be the next Umno deputy president and deputy prime minister is turning into a keen and exciting contest. Both Ali and Muhammad stepped up their campaigning in the last three weeks and momentum in the deputy presidential race picked up.

Muhyiddin remains the favourite to win the deputy presidency but the momentum gained by Ali and Muhammad has become a concern in the Muhyiddin camp.

Incumbent deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak will officially become Umno president and, by convention, prime minister in March after picking up almost all but one of the nominations from the divisions. No one else can qualify by getting the 59 nominations needed to contest the No. 1 post. However, Najib has to date yet to indicate his choice for his deputy.

Incumbent president and prime minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will step down in March to allow for a smooth takeover by Najib.

The party will see eight contenders for the three vice-president slots. Former science, technology and innovation minister Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim secured the prerequisite 20 nominations yesterday. Rais now has 26 nominations and Jamaluddin, 25.

Leading the vice-presidential race is outgoing Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein with 152 nominations, followed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (105). Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, with 79 nominations, is seeking to become the first Sabahan to be Umno vice-president.

Others in the VP race are Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin (72), Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar (32) and former vice-president Tan Sri Isa Samad (26) who was suspended for three years for money politics in the last party elections.

Another aspirant, former Malacca chief minister and supreme council member Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Tamby Chik is four nominations short of qualifying for the VP race.

In Seberang Perai, Abdullah said the contest for deputy presidency is “baguslah” (good). “It reflects the members’ desire for contest for the post, but I hope there would not be splits and quarrels among supporters of the three candidates.”

He also said that the 900 complaints of alleged corruption received by the party leadership in the run-up to the general assembly showed that the situation had worsened. He cautioned that if members continued to resort to bribery, there would be no end to money politics in Umno. It would become more widespread, he said.

He said that the large number of complaints also proved the effectiveness of the party’s disciplinary committee. “It shows that Umno members are ready to make reports when things like this happen,” he said.

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