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DIVISIONAL BACKING: ‘Outsiders’ nominated as candidates to enhance chances of winning polls
PUTRAJAYA : UMNO divisions gave the party’s quest for winnable candidates a major boost by bringing in those not in the party hierarchy in their list of prospective general election candidates, a party official said yesterday. Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said with all the divisions having submitted their lists, it was particularly interesting that there were names of candidates who were not “even in the Umno division”.
Tengku Adnan was alluding to nominees who were not office bearers at the divisional level such as the chief, deputy chief, Youth or Wanita chief.
“They are respected community leaders who are from nongovernmental- organisations.
It is felt that they have a strong chance of winning,” said Tengku Adnan.
He said the divisions took the cue from party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak for winnable candidates to be nominated for the coming general election. Umno headquarters had vetted the candidates’ list for bankrupts, those with criminal records and bad loans.
Tengku Adnan, who is also Barisan Nasional secretary-general, said other component parties would have to submit their lists of candidates within the next two weeks.
He said a letter to this effect would be sent out today to all component party leaders. “This is the next step in our final preparations as Umno has prepared the party’s candidates’ list for the general election,” said Tengku Adnan after handing out 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) to 700 families and 1Malaysia netbooks to 1,000 students in Putrajaya yesterday.
Tengku Adnan also said several BN component party leaders had expressed their intention to hand over seats they contested in the 2008 general election to other BN component parties.
“They are not confident of winning some constituencies and felt other BN parties have better chances of winning there,” said Tengku Adnan, who is also Putrajaya member of parliament.
Meanwhile, Umno has come up with measures to ensure that the party does not suffer from any internal sabotaging or politicking that could harm its chances.
Its national disciplinary committee deputy chief Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas said operatives had been put in place in all states to monitor developments in all divisions.
"They may not necessarily be Umno members. They could be retired teachers or civil servants."
He said there were up to six operatives in each state and these people also moved from state to state in order to get independent and unbiased views from the grassroots.
The operatives had been appointed directly by the national disciplinary committee and nobody knows their roles except for the committee.
Megat Najmuddin said Umno now had a better understanding of the dynamics in the various divisions and had been able to identify the various factions and "hotspots", where trouble could be brewing.
He said if reports from these operatives indicate any detrimental actions by any Umno member, the committee would swing into action immediately and haul them up.
"We will be acting on them before the elections, not after as it will be rather academic then."
He said the 22-member disciplinary committee had so far gone down to Perak, Selangor, Perlis and Kedah for meetings, where this new initiative had been explained to the local chiefs.
Later in the day, Tengku Adnan told the New Straits Times he hoped the month-old initiative by the disciplinary committee would be some sort of a watchdog for the party.
"We now have feelers all over and a system is in place to deal with recalcitrants."
From the meetings in the states, he gauged that Umno members were responding well as they understood the seriousness of the issue.
"They now realise that they cannot go about doing what they like without any consequences. They must know the do's and dont's during an election."
Political analyst Prof Dr Chin Yew Sin has described the move by Umno divisions to nominate those outside the party ranks as "radical and non-traditional", one that would benefit the party in the long run.
He believed it was in the divisions where Umno or BN had lost in the last general election which had nominated such candidates.
"They had (probably) looked among the party ranks for suitable candidates for the next general election but could not find one.
"Thus they know that in order to win they will have to bring in outsiders, those who are Umno-friendly and popular through work in non-governmental-organisations."
Dr Chin, president of the Oriental Strategy Research Centre, added that this showed the support of the grassroots to party president Najib's call to find the right winnable candidates.