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Monday, March 16, 2009

Ali Rustam and others face polls shutout?

KUALA LUMPUR, March 16,2009 — Malaysianinsider

Speculation is rife tonight about the possibility that a number of top Umno leaders, including leading deputy presidential candidate Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam, face suspension from the party for breaking campaign rules.

Umno displinary committee chairman Tengku Ahmad Rithaudeen Ismail will hold a press conference at 4pm tomorrow where an announcement will be made on the matter.

Besides Mohd Ali, a number of other candidates are also said to be facing the possibility of being blocked from contesting the crucial party polls next week.

Among them are deputy Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, former Selangor menteri besar Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, Azalina Othman and Norza Zakaria.

If any of these leaders are blocked from contesting in the elections, it will send shockwaves through Malaysia’s biggest political party.

Mohd Ali, the Malacca chief minister, is said to be leading in the race to become party deputy president.

If he is disqualified, it will virtually mean the deputy presidency will be delivered to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The other contender for the party No 2 post is Muhammad who is said to be lying a distant third in the contest.

Dr Khir has already stated that there are attempts being made by unnamed quarters to sabotage his and Mohd Ali’s campaigns.

The Selangor Opposition Leader is leading the race to become Umno Youth chief.

But if he or Khairy are suspended, the remaining contender, Mukhriz Mahathir, will win in a walkover.

Norza, who is defending his party supreme council seat, has already been charged in court for bribery in his campaign, and is almost certain to be suspended or even expelled.

Azalina, who is also contesting a supreme council post, is being investigated by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC). Her political secretary was also recently detained for questioning.

A mass suspension or expulsion of leaders suspected of corruption or vote-buying could have unpredictable results on the party.

While public support may be gained from tough action, a full scale shutout of candidates from key posts such as the deputy presidency could lead to accusations from within Umno of favouritism by incoming president Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

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