10 big guns expected in Umno V-P election

KUALA LUMPUR: With the registration of candidates for Umno's much-anticipated polls drawing to a close, more names aiming for a spot at the big table have emerged.

As expected, a crowded field is expected with at least 10 heavyweights set to join the fray for the three vice-presidential posts. Among them are incumbent Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, who confirmed on Friday that he would be seeking re-election.

Going up against Khaled is former menteri besar Datuk Seri Hasni Mohammad.

Hasni was recently dropped as the state Umno chief, a post he had held since 2018, and replaced by Khaled.

Hasni, who announced his candidacy yesterday, said his intention to contest was borne by his desire to help "strengthen the party" and continue contributing at all levels.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, meanwhile, is also expected to make a run. Ahmad, who is the party's secretary-general, was said to have the full backing of his grassroots supporters in Pontian, who described him as having his own calibre and credibility.

Other vice-president incumbents — Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid — have yet to say if they are defending their post.

Ismail Sabri had publicly stated that he was "undecided" whether to re-contest, but party insiders believed that the likelihood of his candidacy was high. He had openly stated that the no-contest motion for the top two posts in the party should be referred to the Registry of Societies.

However, he had been spared the "punishments" faced by his former party comrades, namely former Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, former defence minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, former information chief Shahril Sufian Hamdan and Selangor Umno liaison committee chairman Tan Sri Noh Omar.

Meanwhile, other powerhouses understood to be keen to join the race included Supreme Council members Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir, Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani (attending council member) and Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki.

Johari, who is Titiwangsa member of parliament, had been actively garnering grassroots support.

The sole female candidate said to be eyeing the vice-presidency post is Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman.

It was understood that Azalina had the full support of Wanita members, following a deal made with current Wanita chief Datuk Seri Noraini Ahmad.

Sources had previously said Azalina had agreed to back down from contesting as Wanita chief, after learning that Noraini wanted to defend the post.

Another senior leader said to be running is Barisan Nasional communications director Datuk Seri Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah.

This would be his maiden bid for the vice-presidency, having held multiple party posts at the division and Supreme Council levels since 1996.

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