UMNO REAFFIRMS ITS CORE SOUL – TREACHERY, DECEIT & CORRUPTION – ISMAIL SABRI-ZAHID TUSSLE BREAKS OUT INTO THE OPEN – BUT CAN THEIR TUSSLE HURT UMNO? – SADLY, IT’S JUST ANOTHER DAY IN ‘PARADISE’ FOR ITS LEADERS – THIS IS UMNO, THIS IS THE NATURE OF THE BEAST THEY CREATED!

Umno the ultimate loser in Zahid-Ismail tussle

Did a civil war just break out in Umno?

Ambassador-designate Tajuddin Abdul Rahman’s removal as supreme council member appears to be the first public flexing of muscles by party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

His target: prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Tajuddin, an ally of the prime minister, shares Ismail’s view that the country is not ready to go to the polls yet.

Zahid, on the other hand, is at the forefront of the faction pushing for Parliament to be dissolved and for the next general election to be called.

Umno’s elections director Mohamad Hasan, meanwhile, straddles the fence.

Grassroot members, however, are concerned that the rakyat will be turned off by more pressing concerns, chief among them being the tension developing between Zahid and Ismail.

They are keenly aware that corruption, brought sharply into focus and magnified by the 1MDB scandal, was what took down Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional-led government when the nation last went to the polls in 2018.

Unlike Najib, who had to step down after the elections, Zahid is still party president despite being embroiled in a corruption case of his own.

That case, and his role as deputy prime minister in the government that fell four years ago, has led to a deep divide from the very top of the party to its very bottom.

To his detractors, Zahid projects the very face that Umno is trying to rid itself of, which may hurt the party at the ballot box.

So long as he remains Umno president, however, he wields ultimate power in determining whose names the party will advance as its candidates at GE15. That power alone entitles him to the loyalty of incumbents and aspiring candidates, even if it was only given grudgingly.

As it stands, even prime minister Ismail would need Zahid’s sign-off.

Despite Malaysia’s multiple problems, including a sluggish economy, a weakening ringgit, struggling businesses, inflation and the like, Ismail remains the party’s best candidate for prime minister.

In the absence of any real competition from party colleagues, his success in reigning in the opposition, coupled with populist policies – the latest being this week’s handout of an extra RM100 to the B40 segment – have made him Umno’s best bet to lead the party into GE15.

His hand will surely be strengthened significantly within Umno if he can bring in the “wow” budget Mat Hasan is hoping for.

In the meantime, the tussle between Zahid and Ismail is set to continue, with the party president using his presidential powers and the prime minister using the power of incumbency to stake their respective claims for the ultimate prize.

The worry is that it is a battle which neither of them will win, with Umno the ultimate loser if it causes the party to lose its tenuous hold on Putrajaya.

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