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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Way cleared for Muhyiddin

Muhyiddin set to become the deputy president of Umno and deputy prime minister of Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 - The path will be clear today for Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to become the deputy president of Umno and deputy prime minister of Malaysia - but expect acrimony and ill-feeling to reign in the ruling party.

The outcome for the number two spot in Umno will be guaranteed today after Malacca chief minister Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam opts out from contesting for the number two position in the party or is suspended from Umno.

Sources told The Malaysian Insider that the party's top leadership has given the politician an option: withdraw from the race or face possible sanctions from Umno disciplinary committee.

Ali is among several senior politicians investigated for money politics in the run-up to next month's party elections.

Hugely popular with the grassroots, he was expected to snare enough votes from Umno delegates to win the coveted deputy president's position, beating Muhyiddin and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib to the finish line.

This prospect unnerved powerful forces within the ruling party who felt that he did not have the stature or the tools (notably a poor command of English) to become the DPM to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

They also felt that he was too close to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, a politician they blamed for the loss of five states and the two-thirds majority in Parliament in Election 2008.

Over the last few weeks there has been a campaign of agitation by this group of party officials for action to be taken against several individuals not "sanctioned'' by them.

Ali's supporters charge that there are several hidden hands behind the move to take the Malacca CM out of the race, a few of them linked to the Umno disciplinary committee or with some influence on the members of the committee.

They argue that every candidate contesting the party elections has paid "petrol money'' of a few hundred ringgit to delegates but only a clutch have been given show cause letters.

Their grouse: there appears to be selective prosecution by Umno's disciplinary committee, aimed at clearing the way for certain individuals to emerge victorious at the party polls.

They refuse to accept that the committee reached its decision to take action based on conclusive evidence or good faith.

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