Thursday, November 13, 2008

FOCUS SEREMBAN: Conflicts cloud unity

Umno members casting their votes at the Rembau Umno divisional elections on Sunday at Pusat Dakwah Islamiah Paroi, near Seremban.
Umno members casting their votes at the Rembau Umno divisional elections on Sunday at Pusat Dakwah Islamiah Paroi, near Seremban.

SEREMBAN: Umno divisional meetings in the state progressed smoothly except for Seremban, where trouble was anticipated.

The smouldering rivalry between the division chief, Datuk Ishak Ismail, and vice-chief, Mohd Nor Awang, is no secret and a close fight for the divisional top post was on the cards.

However, about two weeks before the divisional meeting, the Umno supreme council disqualified Nor after he was charged in the Sessions Court for bribery.

Ishak went on to claim that the fracas at the divisional meeting on Nov 9 had been orchestrated by Nor so that the meeting would be postponed, giving him time to appeal his disqualification.

This was denied by Nor, who said he would make a report on the events to the supreme council.
Even before the state's divisional meetings kicked off, talk of camps and factions was rife.

Insiders claimed there was interference from party leaders to sway the divisional elections and nominations for senior party posts.

When Rembau Puteri division chief Bibi Sharliza Mohd Khalid did not receive any nomination from her division to run for national Puteri leader, she was quick to blame it on outside meddling.

The Rembau Puteri nomination went to Sabah Puteri Umno chief Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin.

Bibi claimed it as "sabotage" by higher-ups out to discredit her and ruin her chances of going for the top Puteri post.

Eyebrows were also raised during the Rembau Youth division meeting recently, where it was expected that the nomination would unanimously go to Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who is also the division's Youth leader, to contest the top Umno Youth post.

When the nominations were opened, a few delegates shouted for another candidate.

Though the nomination eventually went to Khairy, questions on the division's unity arose.

Several veteran Umno members said solidarity in the branches, divisions and among state leaders had to be given attention.

There was also not much unity to put Umno on a strong footing with the next general election only four years away.

For a start, the perception that one joins Umno to become rich must be eradicated, as Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan has pointed out.

If the perception persists, DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat and Pas can look forward to raising their present tally of 15 out of 36 state seats at the next general election. -- By Patrick Sennyah