Dispel sodomy, flailing support for the PM and rising prices, just for an article at least.
Umno is the biggest party still, and barring a late collapse will decide the future of Malaysia.
VPs mark the changing guard of the party. Being one of the three VPs would mean you have a real chance to be deputy president. This may not be the best thing in the universe, but in a party where no incumbent President has been defeated in open election, being deputy president is a breadth away from being president and prime minister. Which makes technically, VPs two breadths away times three away from the presidency.
In the 1970s Hussein Onn picked Mahathir over Razaleigh to assume the deputy presidency, and we still hear people bickering about it till today. Same banana when after Musa Hitam resigned, Mahathir picked the longest serving but most unconvincing Ghaffar Baba, who achievements must be limited to the tennis tournament named after him.
Anwar did not need Mahathir to pick him when a position became available, but he did require Mahathir’s consent when he eased simple Ghaffar out of the deputy position.
So who are the contenders?
A whole train-load of pretenders so we are better off just worrying with the serious candidates and groups.
The incumbents then. Muhyiddin and Ali Rustam ( The other winner in 2005 elections Isa Samad was removed for questionable election practices)
One (Muhyiddin) is out of the race, as he is making the move for top leadership. So one left.
I don’t think Ali Rustam will keep his place. He has in a time where change is necessary has stagnated. Melaka stayed BN but it did not seem due to Ali’s appeal. But he might benefit if the field is overcrowded, and most attention and money is committed to the top two contests.
So we might have a complete new line up.
Hisham will make the leap, but will he excel? Non-Malays blame him for the election loss, but in Umno keris waving is admired. He apologised, so he is a mixed bag. it depends on whether he can reinvent himself in the party, since his only positive is the running of the youth wing through the reformasi years steadfast to the party leaders.
The grandson of Umno founder will only get you that much brownie points these days. But I will give him the nod, using the Umno think as a basis.
Second seat, well it is a give away. With all the pandering in federal politics to Sabah, getting a VP from there would mean that Sabahan are considered as key players in the party not just a supporting role. Especially when peninsula divisions give the candidate the vote. Musa Aman will be the flag-bearer. It would not be his personality but his state and its import that would get him elected.
However the normal Umno delegate is often dismissive of anything beyond payments at the assembly that both president and deputy president must intercede almost directly in advising delegates to give their votes to a Sabahan.
And getting a Sabahan as vice president will mark the beginning of serious steps to get Umno into Sarawak. Umno got into Sabah because they were unsure of the local support. Today the support of Sarawak is beginning to wobble, so they might use greater Borneo representation as a caveat to get to Sarawak.
The final place is going to be a surprise I think. With a Najib-Muhyiddin presence somewhat in the horizon, and a passing Badawi rule, the clamour for someone from Selangor. Selangor is the jewel, and perhaps the nose dive in fortunes (last election result) might have something to do with no strongman in the state. Both the ministers before Khir Toyo were implicated in inappropriate behaviour and removed. Mahathir placed a nobody, and although Khir Toyo the dentist is almost somebody today, he is still only a committee member in Umno Youth.
Umno leaders wanted to keep Selangor quiet, but they ended making it easy pickings for Pakatan Rakyat. So the plan might be to get a VP to build back Umno in Selangor.
Win Selangor as it stands today, and you wipe out the capital of PKR in the country. Strong temptation.
But who? A surprise candidate then. Not Muhammad X2, since he is past it, and now will live as loyal president’s man, like how Sanusi Junid was.
Someone who is famous would work in an increasingly pop culture driven Klang Valley. You tell me.
If Anwar does not topple the government in September then the VP race is going to go hyper.