Corrected on 11:56pm, 24 April 2009
KUALA LUMPUR, 24 April 2009: Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak appeared to strike compromises in his appointments of additional party supreme council (also known as Majlis Tertinggi, or MT) members today, striking a balance of old and some controversial faces with newcomers.
In choosing the new Umno state liaison chiefs, Najib also sought to consolidate certain problematic states such as Terengganu, where open rebellion against Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said has taken place, and other states where incumbent liaison chiefs had failed to get elected in the Umno elections last month.
Najib announced the party’s new executive office bearers, 12 appointees to the supreme council, and rearrangements in the state liaison chiefs’ line-up after the council’s elected members met for a three-and-a-half hour meeting today.
(From left) Muhyiddin, Najib, Tengku Adnan and Shahrizat
In the party’s executive posts, Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor was retained as secretary-general. The Putrajaya Member of Parliament (MP) was appointed to the post in March 2008 by former party president Tun Dr Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. He was also implicated in the VK Lingam video recording which resulted in a Royal Commission of Inquiry into allegations of illegal intervention into the judicial appointment process.
The new party treasurer is Finance Minister 2 Datuk Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah and party information chief is Ahmad Maslan, who is also the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (BBNC) information chief and Pontian MP.
The 12 appointed supreme council members include several cabinet ministers, namely Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Brig Jen (Rtd) Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom, and Federal Territories Minister Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin.
Others include Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, and former Wanita chief Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, Datuk Seri Paduka Abdul Aziz Sheikh Fadzir, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Abdul Ghani Othman, and former Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim.
Three other appointed supreme council members representing the Wanita, Youth and Puteri wings are Wanita deputy chief Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim, deputy Youth chief Datuk Razali Ibrahim, and Perak Puteri chief Dr Wan Norashikin Wan Nordin, who made a bid for the Puteri deputy chief post in the party polls but lost.
Hishammuddin heads Terengganu
Hishammuddin Hussein (Pic courtesy of
theSun)Among the surprises in the state liaison chief list is the appointment of Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to head Terengganu Umno.
The other state liaison chiefs are Datuk Seri Md Isa Sabu (Perlis); Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Kedah); Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (Penang); Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir (Perak); Najib (Selangor); Muhyiddin (FT); Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan (Negeri Sembilan); Ali Rustam (Malacca); Abdul Ghani (Johor); Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob (Pahang); Datuk Mustapa Mohamed (Kelantan) and Datuk Seri Musa Aman (Sabah).
The replacement of Terengganu MB Datuk Ahmad Said with Hishammuddin, who is also the home minister, a party vice-president and Najib’s cousin, indicates a fair amount of seriousness the president has in ensuring the open rebellion in the state does not get out of hand. Ahmad is now Hishammuddin’s deputy in the state’s Umno affairs.
In Perlis, replacing former MB Shahidan with the new MB Md Isa is also seen as a decisive move to quell rivalry in the state ever since Shahidan was controversially removed from his post by the Perlis palace after the March 2008 general election.
In Penang, former prime minister and party president Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was the Umno Penang liaison chief, is now out of the picture after being replaced by party vice-president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. He is also the defence minister.
In Perak, Zambry’s appointment as the new state liaison chief is unsurprising given that he is menteri besar. He takes over from Najib as the state liaison chief after former Perak MB Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli stepped down from the post.
Najib now heads Umno Selangor, replacing Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, who lost in his bid for the party deputy presidency to Muhyiddin.
(Corrected) Muhyiddin takes over Federal Territory Umno from Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique, who was dropped from the cabinet.
Ali Rustam Retaining Ali Rustam as the Malacca liaison chief is seen as a move by Najib to placate his supporters after the chief minister was axed from running for the party deputy presidency for being guilty of money politics.
Commitment to change
Today’s supreme council meeting was the first since the party election in March and since Najib became the new Umno president.
Najib told reporters that the council discussed changes needed in Umno, which included reforming the party elections. These changes would be adopted at an emergency general meeting to be held later this year.
Najib said the date for the EGM had not been finalised as he was trying to avoid a clash with other events such as the tabling of the 2019 budget.
“The supreme council today agreed that the EGM will focus on amending the Umno constitution to make our election process more transparent, open and democratic. A committee has been formed to look into the amendments which will be approved by the supreme council before the EGM,” he said.
He also explained his move to abolish the Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Ministry to the supreme council members today.
Najib said the council members understood that the move did not mean any change to the government’s commitment to agencies under the ministry which aided the bumiputera business and entrepreneur community. The agencies have been absorbed under various other ministries.
He also explained his recent announcement to liberalise 27 services sub-sectors, that these moves had been studied for the past two years, and that Malaysia was lagging behind among Asean countries in opening these sectors.