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THE TALK: Some incumbents may move to federal posts to make way for new faces
THE beam of the political spotlight is making quick shifts -- there seems to be too many events to focus on because of the heightened activities from Perlis to Sabah.
The rate of unofficial campaigning that is being carried out by both sides gives the impression that Malaysians can hardly wait for the 13th general election, which by law needs to be called by the middle of next year.
Humongous to smaller versions of party flags, banners and bunting have added more colour in anticipation of the looming polls.
From speculation on the polling date to who will make the cut to the final list of candidates, the Barisan Nasional camp is now focusing on the positions of the menteris besar and chief ministers.
This is likely to have been sparked following a high-powered Umno meeting recently, which among others, discussed potential new faces to fill these positions.
The talk is that a handful of incumbents would be replaced, a move many said, if true, should not come as a surprise since a couple of BN chiefs of state had been around for over a decade, if not more.
Umno sources said at least one member of parliament, who is not keen to move to the state, is being persuaded to consider his nomination.
It was also said that some of those to be changed are likely to contest federal seats and join the cabinet should they win and if BN is given a new mandate to rule after the polls.
These changes are expected since BN has committed itself to change and rejuvenate after the massive electoral losses in 2008, to keep abreast with the needs and demands of the electorate.
Among the longest-serving state leaders from Umno are Pahang's Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, who took office in 1986, Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, who has been helming Johor since 1995, and Datuk Seri Ali Rustam, the Malacca chief minister since 1999.
Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, who led BN to victory in the Sarawak election last year in what is seen as his last term, is the longest serving chief minister, assuming office in 1981.
Despite being around for 17 years, Ghani, who enjoyed good relations with the Johor palace, is said to be among those allowed to stay another term.
The talk in Umno is that there would also be changes in Perlis, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang and Terengganu.
Names bandied about to be the new nominees are Arau MP Datuk Seri Syed Razlan Syed Putra Jamalullail for Perlis, Tangga Batu MP Datuk Idris Haron for Malacca, Tampin MP Datuk Seri Shaziman Abu Mansor for Negri Sembilan, and Lanchang assemblyman Datuk Mohd Shakar Shamsuddin for Pahang.
As many as nine names, including a serving state executive councillor, are said to have cropped up as nominees for Terengganu menteri besar. Datuk Seri Ahmad Said is the incumbent.
The Terengganu ruler had rejected then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's nominee, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, to continue as menteri besar in 2008 and instead swore in Ahmad despite overwhelming protests from the state Umno.
Similarly, the Raja of Perlis rejected Abdullah's proposal for Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim to continue as Perlis menteri besar. Bintong assemblyman Datuk Dr Md Isa Sabu was sworn in by the ruler as he claimed support of eight Umno assemblymen in the 15-seat state assembly.
Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, who was made menteri besar in 2009 following the BN takeover of Perak, is said to be still the preferred choice, while Sabah's Datuk Seri Musa Aman is likely to remain in his post.
Cautious about a possible 2008 Terengganu and Perlis episode, an Umno source said Najib had sought the views of state rulers in the selection of menteris besar.
It is learnt that BN had more or less settled on its nominees for states now ruled by Pakatan Rakyat. The most speculated is the nominee for Selangor, the state BN vowed to re-capture from Pakatan. Datuk F.D. Iskandar of Glomac Berhad is among several corporate figures, besides the present crop of leaders, said to be among those considered.
Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, the Jerlun MP, is widely said to be the likely nominee for Kedah, although many are placing their bets on Kedah Umno chief Datuk Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, the Bakar Bata assemblyman.
Jeli MP Datuk Mustapa Mohamed is seen as the candidate for Kelantan, while new Penang BN chief Teng Cheng Yeow of Gerakan would be chief minister should BN recapture the two states.
Polls could still be called as early as this month. Until then, many things are open to speculation.