ALOR STAR: THERE have been at least two surveys carried out on who would be Kedah menteri besar if Barisan Nasional reclaims the state in the general election.
One survey, carried out by Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) last July, found that 69 per cent out of 18,800 respondents in Kedah chose Deputy International Trade and Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir to be the menteri besar.
Another survey by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, also backing UUM's findings, found Mukhriz could sway fence-sitters in the state, comprising between 25 and 30 per cent of 1.8 million registered voters in the state, in favour of BN.
Mukhriz, the fifth child of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is popular among the electorate, both in his Jerlun parliamentary constituency and Kedah. That the 46-year-old Mukhriz was the natural choice for menteri besar among Kedahans was a well-established fact.
Mukhriz, however, had always downplayed his popularity and maintained that the menteri besar post was a secondary issue.
"We must all first win back Kedah."
That was his mantra each time he was asked if he would accept the post of menteri besar should BN reclaim Kedah in the general election. An equally important credential for anyone to be considered as the state menteri besar was the "acceptability" factor.
The unwritten criterion said the menteri besar candidate must be acceptable to party elders in Kedah Umno. It was common knowledge that the so-called warlords, among the 15 Kedah Umno division leaders, had a big say in the choice of menteri besar.
Many among the division leaders felt that they also deserved a shot at becoming the next menteri besar.
However, the feelings had somewhat diminished and most of them had accepted and appreciated Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's call for all Umno members and leaders to accept the party's decision, especially on candidates for the general election, and by extension, its choice to helm the states later.
Party elder Datuk Tajul Urus Mat Zain best summed up the sentiments of his peers when he echoed Najib's clarion call of "party first before self".
"We are realistic and we know Kedahans want a younger and more dynamic leader," said Tajul Urus, who is also Merbok Umno division chairman.
"This is what the people want and this is what they should get."