PETALING JAYA,Oct 28: A party insider said Umno has gone back to the drawing board over its nominee for the deputy prime minister’s (DPM) post in the Perikatan Nasional (PN)-led government.
Prior to this, a source said Umno only put forth one nominee, party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The majority of Umno’s 39 MPs are said to be aligned to the Bagan Datuk MP and want him to reassume the DPM role as part of Umno’s “new conditions” for its continued support for the PN government.
“Our choice was Zahid as he has the experience and was the deputy prime minister too,” said a source in the know.
However, the source said other names were now being thrown into the mix, including Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
There is speculation that Zahid may be seen as a risk and while the source did not want to comment on the president, he said Ismail was seen as “reasonable and neutral”.
“He does not come with political baggage and court cases. He is also becoming popular among the masses,” he added.
Some Umno MPs have suggested Hishammuddin’s name but the source said the Sembrong MP is seen as being “close” to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and PPBM’s Azmin Ali.
“His decisions may not represent Umno’s voice. MPs are looking at various factors before making a decision, ” he said, adding that they want an MP that is accepted by all.
The source also said that deputy president Mohamad Hasan was not in the running though, going by hierarchy, he was second only to Zahid.
This, the source said, was because Mohamad was not “well accepted” by Umno MPs even though he was seen as a “people’s man” by grassroots and Malaysians of different races and religions.
It is not known when the final list of Umno’s choice for the deputy prime minister post will be submitted.
Meanwhile, Umno’s Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz said it did not matter who in Umno would be offered the position.
“It does not have to be Zahid. We understand if it is not offered to him because of his ongoing trial.
“We must follow the example of Bossku (Najib Razak) who does not want to hold any position until his name is cleared. What is important is that the deputy prime minister comes from Umno and represents the party and Barisan Nasional.”