The Star, Tuesday November 11, 2008
PUTRAJAYA: The Umno division meetings officially ended last weekend but Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi reckons it can still be a nine-way fight for the vice-president posts instead of eight.
Five divisions are only convening next week because their meetings had been postponed due to various reasons, said Ahmad Zahid, a vice-president aspirant himself.
“The entry of yet another candidate for the party polls in March will be good for democracy within Umno,” he told reporters after giving an interview on wakaf issues at the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) here yesterday.
So far, the ones who have qualified to contest for the three vice-president posts are Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Ahmad Zahid, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar and Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis.
Ahmad Zahid has the second highest number of nominations at 103 after Hishammuddin. A candidate needs at least 20 nominations to contest.
Risda chairman Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik, who now has 16 nominations, may qualify if all the five divisions give him their nominations.
Ahmad Zahid said the high number of nominations he received was an indication that his offer to vie for the vice-presidency had strong grassroots support.
“However, the number cannot be used as a gauge to determine if I would obtain the highest number of votes from among the 2,565 delegates in the polls in March.”
Ahmad Zahid also decried the recent reports of money politics, adding that the scourge only involved a few members or divisions.
“It is not fair to accuse all divisions and members of practising money politics,” he said.